CyArk and partners announced the launch of two new projects: the Hopi Petroglyph Sites Digital Preservation Project Website and the Mount Rushmore Project website.

The Hopi portal on the CyArk website will allow a new generation of Native American youth to learn about and share the legacy of their ancestors. The realization of the Digital Preservation Project includes the documentation of sacred Hopi sites through state-of-the-art 3D capture technology, and the use of the data captured to create online interactive and educational multimedia freely available to the public. The 3D models and virtual tours captured at Tutuveni and Dawa Park in Arizona provide the basis for this rich interactive web portal, but they also represent a permanent and highly-accurate 3D digital archive of the sites and the petroglyphs contained within. With the increasing vandalism and deterioration occurring at these sacred Hopi Sites, it is more important than ever to document what exists and educate the public about its importance, not only for members of the Hopi tribe, but for everyone in order to learn a great deal about the diverse history of the Native American people.

The main focus of the project is Tutuveni, a petroglyph site sacred to the Hopi people and is located on Navajo Nation land. Tutuveni means “newspaper rock” and was included on the 2008 World Monuments Fund Watch List in the company of Machu Pichu in Peru and the Bamiyan Valley in Afghanistan where two monumental Buddhas once stood. With support from WMF and Arizona Public Services, Hopi crews recently fenced off the site and installed security cameras. With the leadership of CyArk, laser-scanning crews also digitally documented the site.

This monumental project is the result of collaboration between important tribe representatives and heritage organizations. With the support of the World Monuments Fund (WMF), a New York-based non-profit dedicated to preserving cultural heritage sites across the globe, the Hopi Petroglyph Sites Digital Preservation Project was led by CyArk. Working with the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office, Dr. Wesley Bernardini of the University of Redlands and representatives of the Navajo Nation, CyArk was able to digitally capture two sacred Hopi sites and use the data collected to build out a special web portal to share the legacy of the Hopi as told through Tutuveni and Dawa Park. This web portal was officially launched on Dec. 16, 2011, allowing free public access to all materials created through this important collaboration.

CyArk and the National Park Service launched the much anticipated Mount Rushmore Website, a new way to virtually visit the National Memorial near Keystone, S.D. The web portal is part of an ongoing partnership between the National Park Service and CyArk, and will be continually added to as more media is created over the upcoming months.

The Mount Rushmore National Memorial is host to almost three million visitors a year from across the country and around the world.

In May of 2010, the NPS collaborated with the Kacyra Family Foundation, CyArk and a Scottish Team from the Centre for Digital Documentation and Visualisation (a partnership between Historic Scotland and the Glasgow School of Art) to digitally preserve Mount Rushmore. CyArk founder, Ben Kacyra, said: “It is an honor for our organization to digitally preserve such an important monument to the American spirit for generations to come. The CyArk website gives free access to users across the globe, allowing them to experience Mount Rushmore alongside other culturally significant world heritage sites.”

The laser scanning project also owes its success to the important contributions from Respec Engineering and Wyss and Associates, who worked to develop a geo-referenced control network that was used to tie all the laser scan data together. Doug Pritchard, head of visualization at the GSA’s Digital Design Studio, said: “The documentation of the Mount Rushmore National Monument was a tremendous privilege, in particular working with the local survey organizations, Leica Geosystems, the US Parks Ropes Team and CyArk."

One of the first digital documentation projects on such a large scale, it was a momentous collaboration for all the project partners. For the Scottish partners, Mount Rushmore was the first of five international heritage sites to get laser scanned as a part of their Scottish Ten initiative. Scottish Cabinet Secretary of Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said: “I am really thrilled that the work done by the Scottish Ten team is being used in such a wonderful way. Mount Rushmore was the first international site that the Scottish Ten project tackled and I know that it is still regarded as setting the bar really high in the standard of the work being carried out and the innovation in getting all of the data required."

The entire sculpture and majority of the public park grounds were laser scanned and photographed to capture the Memorial and create a highly-accurate digital model. The digital information gathered is being used to create media for physical preservation work, education, and virtual tourism.

“With this innovative web portal, internet users around the world will be able to remotely access the Memorial, whether it is to plan a visit or to virtually explore unusual areas such as the Hall of Records,” said Mount Rushmore Superintendent Cheryl Schreier.

From the project's main page, users have access to an array of rich multimedia including an interactive virtual tour of the park, navigable and measurable “point cloud” models, and a large collection of current-day and historic photographs (some of which were never before released to the public).

The web portal is only the beginning of an ongoing partnership between NPS and CyArk. Upcoming releases will include an on-site exhibit at the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center where visitors can learn about the digital preservation process, see the equipment used as part of the laser scanning project and explore the virtual tour and digital archive. In addition, a collection of ten K-12 lesson plans will be available for download and use in the classroom.