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Punch & Judy

3D scanning offers exciting opportunities for bringing delicate museum objects back to life – for everyone. As a museum object dating from the 1930s, this Mr Punch puppet could not normally be handled by the public. But, as V&A curator Cathy Haill says, “3D imaging opens up the possibility of allowing people to manipulate puppets and to produce their very own virtual Punch and Judy show”.

The first recorded Punch and Judy show in England took place in 1662 in Covent Garden. The famous diarist Samuel Pepys saw “Pulchinella”, as he was then called, operated as a marionette by Italian puppet showman Signor Bologna. Pepys enjoyed the show so much that he came back to see it again with his wife. Today, 350 years later, Mr Punch is being captured in 3D to entertain future generations. As you might expect, scanning the anarchic puppet threw up some difficulties. The puppet’s fabric clothes and body constantly changes shape, making it hard to scan, and the glass eyes and fur for hair each have their own particular challenges.