Cultural heritage applications

The area of cultural heritage can make a use of the modern image processing algorithms nowadays. To preserve historical treasures scientists more and more use modern sensors and produce growing amount of visual data. These can be effectively processed and in this way used for better understanding of the art creation processes. Our department participated in several applications, where image processing methods were used during the art conservation process or for its evaluation.


  • denoising of underdrawing IR images
  • An underdrawing is a preparatory drawing for a painting,
    sketched directly on a ground. The underdrawings are later covered with the artist’s medium, and the underdrawings are not visible any more. Infrared analysis provides an easy nondestructive mean of eliminating the overlying paint on the underdrawings of many artworks. Images acquired with infrared camera appear grayish and large amount of noise is often present. We have developed new denosing method based on thin plate splines which decrease level of noise and at the same time preserve the sharpness of the edges.

  • evaluation of St.Vitus mosaic conservation
  • This project was involved in the restoration of the St. Vitus mosaic. Having the historical photo of the mosaic from the end of the 19th century and the photos of the current state, we study the evolution of the mosaic, which was several times reconstructed and conserved.

  • microscopic samples from material research - image preprocessing and analysis
  • The key issue of the art restoration is the material research. Its aim is the location and the classification of inorganic and organic compounds using microanalytical methods, and description of painting layers and their morphology, where the layer is defined as consistent and distinguishable part of the painting profile. Our proposed system Nephele tries to facilitate the work of restorers in this field. Image segmentation, and image retrieval are the main building blocks of this system.

  • Nephele: extended database system for material research including content based image retrieval
  • The Nephele system was designed for archiving and work with painting material research reports. The content of this extended database system reflects the structure of the report. Possibly the most important functionality of the system is the search function, which selects required reports. The user has two options: to use textual information for looking up the report, or content-based image retrieval, which compares archived image data with the query image sample.

  • virtual fresco restoration
  • Having information from various sources (visual images, UV and IR images, old photographs of the artwork, chemical point analyzes) we can create a model which would be closer to the artwork at the time of its creation than the current state is. Information from all data sources can be combined and fused, structures can be extrapolated and "improved".

    Key publication:

    Duration: started 2001
    Contact person: Barbara Zitova
    Involved people: Miroslav Benes, Jan Flusser, Filip Sroubek, Jan Blažek, Roman Kašpar, Lukáš Petrů
    Involved extern: RNDr. Janka Hradilova, , Akademická laboratoř materiálového průzkumu malířských děl (ALMA)