The gardens have now reopened after months of Covid-enforced closure and we are very happy to see so many people enjoying the grounds again.
Sadly, for the moment it is not possible for us to re-open the Visitor Centre and the Stephens Collection housed within it.
But we have good news on that front too! We have teamed up with technology consultants Exor Technology to create 3D digital versions of some of the objects in the collection and you can now see those online in their full glory.
The Stephens Collection has artefacts that trace the history of the Stephens family and the estate, the development of the Stephens ink company into a worldwide brand, and the history of writing materials generally. It has been lovingly collected and curated over the years by house staff and local enthusiasts and now comprises hundreds of items of local as well as national value. It is a hidden gem in the heart of North London.
What we have done is pick a few of the objects in the collection and render them in glorious 3D using a process called photogrammetry, which creates 3D digital objects from 2D images taken with standard cameras. If you want to know more about the technology behind this, have a read of Exor Technology's write-up on their site.
This was a Covid lockdown labour of love. One of the directors of Exor Technology lives locally and took the objects we selected into his home "lockdown studio" to capture them for this project. We hope you will agree that the results are amazing, especially given the enforced constraints.
Digital 3D objects are the building blocks of all Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) experiences. They are increasingly being used in a variety of other industries like medicine and architecture, as well as film and games. 3D printing, another fast-growing industry, also relies on accurate digital 3D objects.
The 3D objects are being hosted for us by Sketchfab under their very generous Museums Programme.
We think that the digital assets that we have made from the pieces in our collection should belong to everyone, in the same way that Henry Stephens left the house and gardens for the enjoyment of all. So in line with other museums and institutions in the country, like the British Museum, we are making them freely downloadable with a very permissive licence: You can use them for whatever you want, and all you have to do is give us a credit when you use them.
So just follow the links on the pages if you want to download them. And thanks to Sketchfab for their support!
We would love to hear what you think of this project. We are considering applying for funding to digitise more of our objects and would like to know what you think of them. And of course, if you do use them for your own projects please let us know!