The National Park Service (NPS), in collaboration with partner CyArk, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of historical sites, will be using cutting edge technology to create 3D images of the Lincoln Memorial, which can be used to create virtual tours of the memorial and also provide a precise historical survey of the structure.

The 3D images could also potentially be used in future preservation work. The first phase of the project will begin Dec. 9, when a team from Pennsylvania-based forensics firm DJS Associates will digitally document the structure with laser scanners. DJS is providing its services to the Park Service free of charge through CyArk, which is also donating its services.

“We are so grateful to CyArk and DJS for providing this important historical documentation that will not only help our preservation efforts, but will allow visitors from all over the globe enjoy a virtual tour of the Lincoln Memorial, which is one of the most iconic structures in the world,” said Bob Vogel, superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks (NAMA). “This a wonderful example of what a public-private partnership can do.”

As the DJS team completes its work, visitors will be able to see lasers scanning the walls of both the interior and exterior of the Memorial. The scanning is expected to take about three days. Laser scanning is a non-invasive technology employed by conservators around the world to rapidly generate a permanent digital record. Once the data is collected, it will be securely archived alongside more than 100 other 3D data sets of historic sites, such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pompeii, and Mount Rushmore in CyArk’s archive. The data will then be available on NAMA’s and CyArk’s websites so that for the first time the public can virtually explore the monument from anywhere in the world.

Data collected by CyArk and DJS will provide National Park Service resource management staff with a complete 3D architectural record that can enhance their ability to care for the structure. The imaging and CyArk’s expertise can also be used to create engaging educational tools for use by NPS interpretive staff and by schools.

The Memorial, built to honor President Abraham Lincoln, was dedicated in 1922 and has been the site of some of the country’s most significant events, including the 1963 March on Washington during which Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Joy Falk, Vice President of DJS Associates said of the project: “DJS Associates, a leader in forensic consulting, technology and animations for over 50 years, is thrilled to be a part of CyArk’s mission to digitally preserve historical landmarks throughout the world. DJS understands the value of bringing the accessibility of these landmarks to the public for educational and viewing purposes and will continue to offer our technical experience, as well as our expertise on three-dimensional data collection, to assist CyArk with achieving their goal.”

CyArk Vice President Elizabeth Lee said "We are thrilled to be adding this important site to our archive for safekeeping. We're grateful for our longstanding partnerships with NPS and DJS, and we look forward to sharing the monument virtually with the world."