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College of Arts & Sciences

CAS Chronicles

History student Hannah Thieryung uses 3D scans to improve museum accessibility

Hannah Thieryung has harbored a love for history since she was young, frequently visiting museums on weekend trips with her family.

Now, as she works toward her Master of Arts degree from the ֱ College of Arts and Sciences Department of History, an internship with ֱ’s Access 3D Lab is helping her to improve accessibility at a museum in her hometown—bringing two of her passions together: history and accessibility.

The May-Stringer House, built in 1855, is located in Brooksville, Fla and served as a private residence for John L. May and his family, who lived there throughout the Civil War. (Photo by Corey Lepak)

The May-Stringer House, built in 1855, is located in Brooksville, Fla and served as a private residence for John L. May and his family, who lived there throughout the Civil War. (Photo by Corey Lepak)

Thieryung began her work with the as an undergraduate student intern and continued to advance this ambitious project in her first term as a master’s student.

The Victorian-era home located in Brooksville, Fla. has been part of the community since the 1800s and was purchased by the Hernando Historical Association in the late 1980s.  

Since then, according to Thieryung, the curation of the historic site has been a community effort that brings the people of Brooksville together.

“They donated items, they helped in here–paint, spackle on things–they donated money. A lot of our items come from community members, so a lot of them will come in,” Thieryung, also a Brooksville native, explained. “They’ll bring their kids, and their grandkids to see the things they donated…Everything in here is in some way a community effort, and that’s something that I really like about it.”

But Thieryung saw one aspect that could be improved — some visitors couldn’t see the museum’s full collection due to its limited accessibility. The centuries-old building is three stories tall with no elevator, leaving guests on the first floor if they have mobility issues.

But with the knowledge she has gained while working toward her degrees at ֱ, Hannah knew she could do something to fix this.

With the support of Dr. Laura Harrison from the Access 3D Lab, Thieryung used Matterport scanning technology to digitize the historic building’s upper floors, with the goal in mind to create virtual tours that guests can access safely without needing to scale the narrow 19th-century staircases.

The scanners use specialized cameras equipped with infrared sensors that capture multiple images of a location. Then, using AI-based software, the images are stitched together to create interactive 3D models.

A completed image scan of a room interior at the May-Stringer House. (Image courtesy of Hannah Thieryung)

A completed image scan of a room interior at the May-Stringer House. (Image courtesy of Hannah Thieryung)

Hannah demonstrating the new technology to a Brooksville community during the museum's unveiling party. (Photo by Dr. Jennifer Knight)

Hannah demonstrating the new technology to a Brooksville community during the museum's unveiling party. (Photo by Dr. Jennifer Knight)

"Hannah's dedication to researching and preserving our local history has been invaluable,” said May-Stringer House curator Autumn Resch. “This project has opened many avenues for advanced accessibility options, future exhibits, and indispensable research potential. Her diligence on this project is priceless and will forever change our museums for the better.”

Although her internship is over for now, Thieryung continues to share her love of history by volunteering at the May-Stringer House and plans on seeing this project through. If everything goes accordingly, the new 3D tours will become integral to the museum’s daily workings by late March 2024.

"I absolutely love the addition of the new virtual tour here at the museum. It relieves me to know anyone who comes through here gets to experience the history and magic of this old home, regardless of physical accessibility needs,” said docent and ֱ alumna Alysha Viveiros during the unveiling of the touchscreens. “I know we even have a few older volunteer docents here who got to experience the upstairs for the first time in a few years! We are all very grateful for Hannah's contributions here at the May-Stringer, which extend beyond the creation of this virtual tour." 

Having this opportunity enhanced Thieryung's experience as a student in the Department of History.  

“One of the biggest things that I’ve loved about ֱ is that interdisciplinary research is so heavily encouraged,” Thieryung explained. “The Department of History’s internship course itself has also been something that has had a big impact on how I view public history and how I interact with the museum and guests and projects. It's always something different, always something new. You get a lot of different perspectives in that class because you're interacting with a bunch of people who are doing completely different internships, working in completely different capacities.”

Learn more about the Access 3D Lab and its current projects. 

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About CAS Chronicles

CAS Chronicles is the monthly newsletter for the ֱ's College of Arts and Sciences, your source for the latest news, research, and events at CAS.