Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Historic Preservation

Committee Chair/Advisor

Amalia Leifeste

Committee Member

Amanda Brown

Committee Member

Patricia Lowe Smith

Committee Member

Michael Spencer


Digital documentation technology came into the mainstream of preservation in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. These technologies have also begun to make their way into museums, another piece of the preservation field. Literature detailing the use of digital documentation technology in museums focuses largely on isolated case studies, often from museums in Europe and Asia. The research on the topic currently lacks a broad understanding of the use of these technologies in museums across the United States.

This thesis utilizes a survey method to determine the scope of digital documentation technologies usage to create 3D digital architecture for the interpretation and stewardship of American historic structures operated as museums. Given a response rate of 24.21% and approximately one third of responses selecting “None of the above” when asked if they possessed a 3D digital product, the data suggests the use of digital documentation technologies is not widespread at this point in time. Survey data, however, reveals that the use of these technologies has been on the rise since 2016, with a significant increase in 2020. Respondents attribute the acceleration of the implementation of these tools to both the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased accessibility of the equipment needed to complete this work.

Survey data also revealed that the most common 3D digital architecture product possessed by respondents is 3D virtual tours (i.e. Matterport). Proprietary software, such as Matterport and Autodesk software (including Revit and 3ds Max) are more common in the creation of the 3D digital architecture products among the creators surveyed. 58.3% iii of these creators hold a graduate degree as their terminal degree and 20.8% hold an undergraduate degree, and yet over three quarters of the creators learned the software used to produce the 3D digital architecture outside of an academic setting.

Using the survey methodology laid out in this thesis, the data presented can be utilized as a benchmark for later studies providing the field with a longitudinal understanding of how this technology usage changes over time.



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