Unlocking the Past: RIT's Spectral Imaging System in the Dubrovnik Archive

Two students from RIT came to Dubrovnik to install the groundbreaking spectral imaging system, known as MISHA (Multispectral Imaging System)

In the picturesque coastal city of Dubrovnik, two students from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), Izzy Moyer and Leah Humenuck, are embarking on an exciting mission this week. Their mission? To install the groundbreaking spectral imaging system, known as MISHA (Multispectral Imaging System for Historical Artifacts), developed in part by RIT, at the esteemed Dubrovnik Archives. This endeavor marks the final phase of a project that seeks to build a bridge between RIT and local institutions, opening new horizons for collaboration and research. The driving force behind this collaboration is none other than Dr. Francis Brassard, a faculty member at RIT Croatia, who has played a pivotal role in mediating this transformative project. The Archives have received a grant from the Croatian Ministry of Culture and Media to facilitate this installation, fostering hopes of an enduring partnership between RIT, both in Rochester and Croatia, and the Archives. Additionally, Izzy Moyer has applied for a Fulbright grant to spend a year in Dubrovnik in 2024-25, underlining the potential for long-term engagement.

The MISHA project, spearheaded by RIT, is overseen by Dr. Juilee Decker, the director of the Museum Studies Program at RIT. This venture is, in fact, a continuation of a previous visit to Dubrovnik by Dr. Roger Easton Jr, Dr. David Messinger, and Tania Kleynhans in 2019. MISHA is a revolutionary multispectral imaging system that has garnered significant attention for its capacity to unveil hidden, faded, or damaged texts and illustrations on various mediums, including parchment, paper, and thermal fax paper. What sets MISHA apart is its impressive range of 16 distinct wavelengths, spanning from ultraviolet to infrared, enabling it to delve into the depths of historical artifacts and reveal concealed information. Its easy portability is another distinctive feature, allowing researchers to effortlessly transport the system to different institutions, whether by car or by plane.

Leah Humenuck, one of the key figures in this project, is a PhD candidate in Color Science at the Munsell Color Science Laboratory at RIT. Her research interests lie in imaging, reproduction, and lighting for cultural heritage, a passion born from her background as a book and paper conservator. Holding a BS in Chemistry from Sweet Briar College and an MA with honors in Conservation from West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, Leah brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the project.

On the other hand, Izzy Moyer, a fourth-year undergraduate student in the Museum Studies Program at RIT, has been deeply involved with the MISHA project since the summer of 2022. Her contributions have been invaluable to the successful implementation of the system.

But this remarkable initiative isn't confined to Dubrovnik Archives alone. Izzy and Leah also held lectures at RIT Croatia's Dubrovnik campus, showcasing the multifaceted implications of MISHA. In their first lecture, Izzy and Leah delved into the cultural heritage implications of introducing MISHA to libraries, archives, and any institution responsible for the preservation of ancient books and manuscripts. They shed light on the transformative potential of this technology, emphasizing how it is breathing new life into the study and conservation of cultural artifacts. The second lecture delved into the technical and IT aspects of MISHA and the broader project. This offered an insight into the intricate workings of the system, demonstrating the technical prowess that underpins its success.

In a world where the preservation of cultural heritage is of paramount importance, projects like MISHA, driven by dedicated individuals such as Izzy and Leah, are at the forefront of innovation. They are rewriting the script of how we unlock the secrets of the past, forging connections between institutions, and setting the stage for a brighter future of preservation and exploration. As the spectral imaging system finds its new home in the Dubrovnik Archives, we can only anticipate the countless hidden treasures it will unveil, transcending borders and bridging the gap between technology and tradition.