Never before has the Night Watch been portrayed so precisely. Together with Rijksmuseum staff, TU researcher Willemijn Elkhuizen is laying the foundations for the restoration.

Never before has the Night Watch been portrayed so precisely. TU Delft researcher Willemijn Elkhuizen and Rijksmuseum staff are laying the foundations for the restoration.

Lees in het Nederlands

A robot slowly moves the platform with three cameras in front of Rembrandt's world-famous painting. TU Delft researcher Dr Willemijn Elkhuizen (Faculty IDE) is responsible for the 3D scan of the enormous canvas. Each shot is 10 by 13 centimetres, she says, and it will take 2,500 shots to fully capture the Night Watch. This will take about three to four weeks.

Senior scientist Prof. Rob Erdmann (Rijksmuseum) says that each position is photographed 13 times with three cameras. That is 39 photographs of each of the 2,500 positions in the painting. The computer will use these to calculate a depth profile that is merged with colour information and ultra-high resolution images into a 3D data fusion at a micrometre scale.

For Dr Robert van Lang, Head of Conservation & Science at the Rijksmuseum, Operation Night Watch is above all a baseline survey. Never before has there been so much and such precise information about the thickness and chemical composition of the paint. A scan like this done in 50 years' time will probably use even better equipment and will show exactly how ageing is manifested in this 378 year old painting.

TUTV producer: Roel Breure
Camera and mounting: Nicholas Nyarko

  • TUTV producer: Roel Breure
  • Camera and editing: Nicholas Nyarko