Pop-up 3D – Digitization and Interactive Visualization of Historical Movable Books in Science-Guided Practice

Project object

While the activities of libraries and museums in the field of 3D digitization of cultural assets, which has so far only been explored in rudimentary form, predominantly address static artifacts, the planned project of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (SBB) goes a step further by focusing on moving books in their characteristic interactivity that transcends the modes of conventional book use. For such kinetic book objects differ from the standard codex by their flexible operating elements – mostly pull tabs or turntables – as found in medieval volvelles as well as in contemporary pop-up comics. Game picture books can be considered the most popular and most differentiated manifestation of the by no means marginal media genre of movement books.

In response to the material turn in the humanities and cultural studies, through which inscribed artifacts in their dimensionality are moving into the focus of research, the project primarily aims to digitize a selection of works representative of the entire typological spectrum of game picture books and to make them permanently accessible in open access – while preserving their specific interactivity. To this end, an exemplary reference corpus of 100 19th- and early 20th-century game picture books from the SBB's public domain collections, relevant to numerous disciplines, will be used to implement a generic concept for the science-driven digitization of kinetic book objects developed by the SBB as part of the BMBF's eHeritage program. In cooperation with the NFDI4Culture consortium, in whose context SBB and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK) are jointly responsible for the area of 3D digitization, the procedure recommended therein was recently reviewed once again in terms of its practical suitability as well as its scientific adequacy in a dialog with researchers from various disciplines – from book and art studies to comparative literature.

However, it is not only the SBB's outstanding holdings of historical game picture books – a media form systematically collected by only a few memory institutions worldwide – that qualify it for this project. Added to this are the expertise and technical infrastructures of the Center for Digital Cultural Materialities, which is available to the SPK institutions as a core facility in the fields of 3D digitization and visualization. Particularly in view of the diversity of its collections – the secondary project goal – the SBB sees this project as a contribution to the establishment of standards for the science-driven digital replication of dynamic-interactive cultural objects such as astrolabes, retables and automata – ideally with participation in the process of self-organized further development of the DFG's Practical Guidelines on Digitisation.

Project term

Aug 2023 - Juli 2026

Project participant(s)

NFDI4Culture, Zentrum für Digitale Kulturelle Materialitäten bei den Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz


Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation)


Dr. Christian Mathieu
Benutzungsabteilung / Wissenschaftliche Dienste
Tel.: +49 30 266 433 240

Carola Pohlmann
Kinder- und Jugendbuchabteilung
Tel.: +49 30 266 436 400

Zoe Schubert, M.A.
NFDI4Culture / Generaldirektion
Tel.: +49 30 266 431 434

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