Digitally Documenting the Famous Naturalist’s Legacy
John Muir, Scottish-born American naturalist famously known as the Father of the US National Park movement, might have been surprised to see CyArk’s production team descending last week on his Victorian home in Martinez, CA to digitally document it inside and out. Though 3D laser scanning technology was still many years off from being invented during Muir’s lifetime, the goal of digital documentation mirrors much of Muir’s life work as the aim is to make these special heritage sites accessible for people to explore and learn about, and to help preserve them for the appreciation and study of future generations.
Last week an expert team from CyArk scanned the interior and exterior of Muir’s Victorian mansion, which was built in 1883 and is located nearly 30 miles north of San Francisco in Martinez, California.
The John Muir National Historic Site is open to the public and is maintained by the US National Park Service. Visitors can tour the grounds and artifacts from the Muir family’s daily life are on display, conserved in excellent condition. Originally situated on 2,300 acres of land, the site today encompasses just 9 acres, but the original house still stands, as do many of the peach trees from the extensive orchards Muir and his family planted.
CyArk’s 3D laser scanning of the site took place through a collaboration between the US National Park Service, Historic Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, and the John Muir Birthplace Trust. The data generated from the scans at Martinez will form a part of the transatlantic partnership between CyArk, Scottish Natural Heritage and Historic Scotland to document Muir’s birthplace in Dunbar, Scotland and his home in Martinez, California.
The scanning data will be shared with conservators at Muir’s childhood home in Dunbar and his home in Martinez to assist with improved site management and interpretation. Additionally, mobile apps and information kiosks will be produced for both sites.
This project and John Muir’s wide-reaching legacy is a key part of Scottish Natural Heritage’s 2013 Year of Natural Scotland celebration. In 2014, Scotland “Welcomes the World” through its Year of Homecoming program. A key element of this is a John Muir Festival which will take place in late April 2014. Apart from highlighting this digital project, the Festival will also include the opening of a new walking, cycling and riding route across central Scotland between Dunbar and Helensburgh designed to help more people to explore the outdoors and experience nature at first hand.
Richard Davison, Scottish Natural Heritage, welcomed the start of the work saying that, “It’s great to see this transatlantic project taking shape. We’re all looking forward to making visitors’ experiences in both the UK and the US even better, as well as strengthening the ties between Scotland and the USA on the life and legacy of John Muir.”
John Muir National Historic Site Superintendent said, “We are excited about the opportunity to make connections with Scotland, the country of John Muir’s birth, in an effort to have more people learn about his long lasting legacy. The work by CyArk will allow us to document these historically significant sites and share them with everyone in a meaningful way, even if they can’t visit us in person.”
Project data and information about Muir’s life and conservation work will be made freely available to the public through the CyArk online archive (www.cyark.org).
1. CyArk, a non-profit organization with offices in Oakland, California and Edinburgh, Scotland, is dedicated to protecting the world’s heritage by using cutting-edge technologies to digitally document heritage sites around the world and securely archiving the data for future generations in our archive. CyArk uses the data today to enhance heritage site conservation, to support innovative, curriculum-based learning, and generates project portals to provide free public access to these incredible sites through our website (www.cyark.org).
2. Scottish Natural Heritage is funded by the Scottish Government to secure the conservation, enjoyment, understanding and sustainable use of Scotland’s nature and landscapes. Scotland is renowned for its attractive scenery and wild places and has a huge diversity of landscapes, habitats and wildlife. These are part of what makes Scotland special and are among the country’s greatest assets. (http://www.snh.gov.uk/)
3. Since 1916, the US National Park Service (NPS) has been entrusted with the care of the United States’ national parks. With the help of volunteers and park partners, the US NPS safeguards more than 400 sites and shares their stories with more than 275 million visitors every year. (http://www.nps.gov)
4. John Muir National Historic Site was set aside in 1964 to preserve and protect John Muir’s home and associated environment as a public memorial and to educate the public concerning his effort as a crusader for the National Parks, and as an ardent supporter of the early conservation movement. (http://www.nps.gov/jomu/index.htm)
5. 2013 is the Year of Natural Scotland, inspiring our people and our visitors to celebrate Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty, landscapes and biodiversity as Scotland prepares to welcome the world in 2014 and beyond. Find out more about Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty at www.visitscotland.com/natural, and also ‘Scotland’s Protected Places’, which showcases together Scotland’s natural and historic treasures. (http://www.scotlandsprotectedplaces.gov.uk/)
6. The John Muir Birthplace Trust (JMBT) was formed in September 1998 as a partnership project involving East Lothian Council, the John Muir Trust, Dunbar’s John Muir Association and Dunbar Community Council. The aim of the JMBT has been to secure the future of John Muir’s birthplace in Dunbar and to develop it as an interpretative center focused on Muir’s work. (http://www.jmbt.org.uk)
7. Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament. For more information visit (http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/)