Kate Jarvis and Claudia Zehrt - British Museum
Albumen print from a gelatin dry plate negative. Photograph of a damaged panel carved with Mayan script and human figures, found on the banks of the Usumacinta River, Mexico.
Alfred Percival Maudslay (1850-1931), an inquisitive British traveller of independent means, explored Central America in the 1880s, where he became fascinated by the ruined cities of the ancient Maya and decided to pursue their research. With great foresight, he sought to record the magnificent monuments he encountered and pioneered the use of two techniques in his quest to capture them. The first, dry-plate photography, produced over 800 photographs, while the second used paper squeeze-moulds and plaster piece-moulds to produce over 400 casts. These collections are housed at the British Museum. Now, the Museum is about to embark on a three-year project, which will see Maudslay’s photographic and documentary archive digitised and the casts 3D scanned. These newly digitised resources will eventually feature in exciting new virtual reality worlds and online initiatives in collaboration with Google, our project partners.