CyArk joins transatlantic project to celebrate John Muir

by Elizabeth Lee
April 8, 2013
A transatlantic project that will digitally document in 3D the homes of Scottish conservationist John Muir using cutting-edge scanning technology was announced by First Minister Alex Salmond in New York today.

This year as people on both sides of the Atlantic celebrate the 175th anniversary of Muir’s birth, the First Minister announced that Muir’s birthplace in Dunbar and his home in Martinez, California would be captured in virtual form in a new partnership to help promote his life and work in Scotland’s Year of Natural Scotland.

The announcement was made during the First Minister’s visit to the United States - where Muir is revered as an environmentalist and considered to be the founder of its national parks, after campaigning to save Yosemite and Sierra from agricultural development and founding the renowned Sierra Club conservation organisation.

The results of the digitisation project - which is a partnership between Scottish Natural Heritage, Historic Scotland, the US National Park Service and CyArk - will be used to deepen the existing links between the historic sites in Scotland and in the United States by allowing visitors to either site to undertake a virtual tour of the other and learn more about the life of John Muir.

The First Minister also confirmed that the project would see apprentices from Historic Scotland create two special carvings that will be placed at each location to symbolise the enduring link that Muir provides to both countries.

The First Minister said:

“John Muir continues to be held in incredibly high regard by people on both sides of the Atlantic and it is entirely fitting that in 2013 we mark the 175th anniversary of his birth by strengthening the links between the country in which he was born, and the country he chose to make his home.

“The project, I am delighted to announce today, will help educate and inform people about how a boy from the small town of Dunbar on the east coast of Scotland crossed the Atlantic and rose to such prominence that he would feature on a US postal stamp and become considered to be the founder of the United States’ national parks.

“Using technology that has already been deployed to magnificent effect in the Scottish Ten initiative, the project will digitally scan Muir’s birthplace in Dunbar and his home in California and the resulting 3D images will allow visitors to either site to tour the other and learn more about John Muir’s fascinating journey.

“During his incredible career, Scottish-born Muir worked tirelessly to preserve the magnificent landscapes of his new home in the United States for future generations. During our Year of Natural Scotland in 2013, and ahead of our second Year of Homecoming in 2014 – where the John Muir Festival will be one of the signature events - it is entirely fitting that we take these steps to raise awareness and celebrate Muir’s outstanding natural legacy.”

Superintendent Tom Leatherman, who oversees John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, California said:

“John Muir once mused, ‘When we try to pick out anything by itself we find that it is bound fast by a thousand invisible cords that cannot be broken, to everything in the universe.’ We are excited about the opportunity to use this connection with Historic Scotland to highlight some of Muir’s own ‘invisible cords’ and provide a greater opportunity to share his legacy with the world.

"I cannot help but think that John Muir himself would be proud of this endeavor and we are excited to have the opportunity to work closely with CyArk, Historic Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage to make it a reality.”
John Muir's home in Martinez, California. Image courtesy of John Muir NHS