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Science and Technology

Dental Collection Goes Digital in “Virtual Museum Project”

Digitization will make the A.W. Ward Museum of Dentistry collection available to a larger audience
Sep 24, 2013

Several members of the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry family have been working hard on a Virtual Museum Project, which will be an effective alternative display style for the school's A.W. Ward Museum collection. The creation of a digital museum was the brainchild of Dean Patrick J. Ferrillo Jr., who suggested it as an efficient way of making the museum's artifacts more readily viewable to a larger audience. 

Dental School staff photograph museum artifactsTo capture and show the collection's diversity, each object is being photographed for interactive digital presentations in kiosks, to be located at various spots in the school's future new campus at 155 Fifth Street in San Francisco. Dr. Dorothy Dechant, museum curator, and Jon Draper, school photographer, have been painstakingly shooting and categorizing the artifacts. The shots are taken using a new "cubelite" set up, which enables the photographer to control the lighting of the objects, minimizing shadows and isolating the subject from the background.

The A.W. Ward Museum of Dentistry
The A.W. Ward Museum of Dentistry was founded in 1974 in honor of one of the school's early graduates and a pioneer of surgical periodontics, Abraham Wesley Ward, P&S Class of 1902. Since its inception the collection has grown from donations, made primarily by alums, of dental furniture, equipment, products, books, photographs, films and documents. Most of the artifacts date from the mid-1800s to mid-1900s. Donated items are catalogued, with description and donor information maintained in an EmbARK database.

Some of the objects are on display in the school's Pacific Heights campus and in the nearby Health Sciences Library, but the bulk of the collection has been in storage for several decades. Once the new Virtual Museum Project is completed, the collection will be available to the dental school community in a much more accessible way.

The school's Institute of Dental History and Craniofacial Study maintains five collections to support the preservation and study of dental history, craniofacial biology and evolution. More information about the collections is available on the school's website.

Students, researchers and dental professionals interested in studying the collections may contact Dr. Dorothy Dechant, museum curator, at 415.929.6627 or ddechant@pacific.edu.