This article from the New York Times reports on a wonderful tool and project that can be used to preserve and protect the images of special places to ensure any future damage and necessary subsequent repairs can remain true to the original vision.
“EDINBURGH — Come April a small team of experts from the Glasgow School of Art and the government heritage entity Historic Scotland will fly to South Dakota at the behest of an organization called CyArk and the United States National Park Service. They will make laser scans and computer models of Mount Rushmore.
“Aside from the wee bit of Scottish blood in three of the four enshrined presidents (Lincoln’s the odd man out, in case you’re wondering), there is of course nothing whatsoever Scottish about this most all-American of sites. But cultural expertise transcends national borders. The Scottish team of four or five will spend a few days setting up and moving around their various scanners to capture all of Mount Rushmore’s nooks and crannies, collecting billions of bits of digital information, which will then be brought back here, to be crunched and sorted out by computer.
“What results should be the most complete and precise three-dimensional models ever of the site, millions of times more detailed and accurate than the best photographs or films, precise down to the tiniest fraction of a millimeter.
“In an era of computer animation, with gamers navigating virtual universes at the click of a mouse, making laser scans of old monuments may not sound special, but the Scottish team has achieved some unprecedented levels of sophistication with their models.
“Through scanning, the experts can conjure up what objects looked like ages ago, in effect turning the clock back on ancient sites. They can simulate the effects of climate change, urban encroachment or other natural or man-made disasters on those same sites, peering into the future.”