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Mount Rushmore Goes Digital

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

National Park News

Excitement and inspiration were hard to conceal during the official launch of Mount Rushmore National Memorial’s mobile app and other digital preservation projects.  Launched to the public on Wednesday, July 13, 2012 at a special event in the historic Elks Theatre in Rapid City, South Dakota, the mobile app and other products are a result of a multi-year partnership between the National Park Service and the Kacyra Family Foundation/ CyArk (CyArk).  The partnership has created a highly accurate 3D model of the park and sculpture which has been used to develop sculpture preservation models, a virtual tour, interactive digital models, K-12 curriculum guides, scaled replicas of the sculpture and museum artifacts, and many other multimedia products.  The virtual tour and many of the multimedia opportunities are available in the free mobile app (

 Representatives from Historic Scotland, CyArk, the Mount Rushmore Society, and the software firm, Autodesk, highlighted the diverse partnerships that helped make the digital preservation project a success.  The launch event also reflected the wide variety of initiatives that are included in the partnership project.  First and foremost is the preservation of the sculpture.  Through the digital scanning data that was captured in 2010, the park has worked with CyArk to identify rock block sections of the sculpture which can be used to better understand the composition of the mountain and influence future preservation needs.

 The data is also being used to create exciting education and interpretation materials.  Local teachers from Hill City and Custer, South Dakota assisted the park in developing K-12 lesson plans based on the digital data.  Students in math and arts programs will be able to measure the volume of the mountain, calculate the weight of the sculpture, and understand proportions and modeling.  One innovative teacher questioned her class “How many first graders can fit in Washington’s Nose?” and created a 1:1 scale drawing of the 21 foot tall nose for students to work with.

 A representative from the software firm, Autodesk, presented the amazing products that can be created with 3D printers from the scanned data.  The park worked with CyArk and Autodesk to photograph many of the tools used to carve the sculpture.  Through technology developed by Autodesk, realistic and accurate replicas were made of these tools and can be used in classroom settings or developed into commercial products for the park’s cooperating association or concessioner.

 This partnership and all of the products and programs that have been developed from the digital data reflect Mount Rushmore’s commitment to the National Park Service’s A Call to Action.  These projects emphasize the importance of new preservation technologies, innovative educational programming, and the use of the latest technologies to reach out to new audiences.  As Mount Rushmore goes digital, visitors are able to see areas of the faces only seen by the original workers themselves.

 To Access Mount Rushmore’s digital portal:

 To learn more about CyArk’s heritage preservation projects:



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