Drexel University in Philadelphia

Archaeology, Animation & Visual Effects

June 27, 2012

I’m a  freshman majoring in Animation and Visual Effects in the Digital Media Program, Westphal College, at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.  Today was my second day on a 10 week STAR Scholars Fellowship using archaeological evidence. The majority of my time will be spent modeling virtual furniture appropriate for the virtual interpretation of the 18th century Dexter House which was excavated in Independence National Historical Park. To better understand how the house may have been furnished Jason Kirk, Professor Muschio and I today visited the park to meet with Chief Curator, Karie Diethorn; Chief Historian and Park Archaeologist, Jed Levin and Deborah Miller, Park Archaeologist, to seek advice and guidance regarding appropriate furnishings.

NPS Archaeology Lab

Being new to the project, I didn’t have much to contribute to the meeting, other than take in all the information that was being communicated. The main discussion centered on where to find artifacts of the time period to use as models for Dexter house furnishings. I was impressed by the excitement and passion all expressed toward the project. The collaboration quickly came together as ideas flew back and forth, developing what would be in the house, and how it might look.  Field trips to historical sites and museums were planned to study suitable furnishings. The project still has a long way to go, but hopefully we can give people a historically accurate glimpse into the past using today’s technology and the expertise of Park archaeologists, curators and historians.

Joseph Tomasso

Freshman, Digital Media Program, STAR Scholar, Pennoni Honors College

Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Digital Media Technologies

I am a Digital Media student in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA. I am currently interning in a six month Research Co-op under Dr. Glen Muschio. He and I are engaged in multiple projects aimed at preserving Philadelphia’s rich cultural heritage through the use of current and next-gen digital media technologies. This is a unique opportunity for me, as the Co-Op allows me to combine my passion for digital art and animation with my interest in history.

3D models of Dexter House, front and side

On Monday, June 25th, I finalized preparation of a 3D digital model and animated fly through of the James Oronoco Dexter House.  The archaeological remains of the house were discovered during archaeological excavation of the grounds now occupied by the National Constitutional Center in Independence National Historical Park.  Dexter, a manumitted slave, occupied the house in the 1790’s. The house was used as the meeting place for discussions that led to the formation of the African Episcopal Church, one of the first two Black Churches founded in Philadelphia.

Interior hearth of Dexter House

The 3D digital model of the house is based on the archeological record, public tax and insurance records and historical photographs of similar houses. The animation showcases the exterior of the property as well as portions of the unfinished interior. This is the third iteration of the model developed by Drexel Digital Media students including Sean Brown, Chester Cunanan, Jake Nichols, Christian Adams, Rachel Young and Colin Wagner.

Interior stairs at Dexter House


Jason Kir, Digital Media junior Westphal College

Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania