Now, Prague City Museum has become the centre of another unique “act of madness” – a digitally processed model of Langweil’s Prague. Up to now, no one else has been able to process so much data into one digital model. The project of digitalization of Michelangelo’s statue of David is a piece of cake compared to the model of Prague, as Langweil’s model contains over two thousand buildings and other objects.
Digitalization took long
The digitalization of the model started in 2006 and cost over 14 million crowns provided by the city. “I appreciate that Prague had embarked on this task and thus supported science,” said Professor Jiří Žára from the Czech Technical University in Prague, who is the museum’s technical consultant. Results of the technical procedures will be published for the attention of the professional public, which has already shown interest in the unique procedures used by Czech scientists.
Digitalization conditions were not exactly easy, as the model could not be touched and the light and work time had to be limited – it could only be done in the winter months to keep the temperature and humidity stable. “Although the digitalization started in 2006, it exceeded five times the time that Langweil had spent on the model,” said Tomáš Petrů, director of Visual Connection, which would have got an A for the task completion. In spite of this, some technicians are not satisfied and would like to increase the quality of digitalization. However, so far no one in the world has achieved that.
Was Langweil perfect?
Historians and architects, monument conservationists and municipal district clerks mostly from building sections often addressed Prague City Museum to provide them with documents related to Langweil’s model, as in some cases the model was the only proof of the existence of certain buildings. Kateřina Bečková, the model’s curator said at the beginning of the digitalization that thanks to digital technology, several secrets of the Old Prague had been uncovered. A lane was found that historians did not know about as well as some sort of annex to St. Vitus Cathedral. “The model had been processed several times but never as much into detail and as systematically as this time,” said Kateřina Bečková. “First black and white photographs were processed, more or less at random, then slides that were mostly used for press, then a collection of 1300 digital photographs was created, but again, these were made more or less at random and could not cover any details. It was not until digitalization that real documentation of this unique technical and artistic monument was made.” Nevertheless, it came out that even the conscientious Antonín Langweil was not perfect and one hundred percent precise. “After the whole digitalization we found out that there are four buildings missing in the model, two in Neruda Street, one in Janský Vršek and one in Úvoz. We are certain that he knew about these buildings but did not include them because the model goes up high in those places and he would have most probably had to omit them to make the model fit in the overall concept,” said Kateřina Bečková.
What is the digitalization good for?
Besides the model’s documentation itself, some applications for the public were created as well. There are touch screen monitors in the museum right beside the model, which will permit an interactive tour of the model. A documentary has been created on the digitalization, a DVD ROM – virtual guide of Langweil’s model. There will also be a game called Adventures in Langweil’s model of Prague and a special kiosk will be set up for researchers to visit selected parts of the model. Furthermore, there will be an interesting 3D film that will be projected in the museum starting in April. It will be some sort of competition to Max. “We expect the digitalization to give great publicity for the city and will attract more visitors to the museum,“ said the Mayor of Prague, Pavel Bém.
More details on the model and its digitalization can be found at www.langweil.cz.