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3D model of Petäjävesi Old Church published

Ministry of Education and Culture
Publication date 14.5.2024 11.19
News item
The high-precision 3D model is made up of over 7,000 photographs and nearly 600 laser scans. The modelling was carried out by Tietoa Finland. Photo: Finnish Heritage Agency.

The Finnish Heritage Agency and its partners have produced a 3D model of Petäjävesi Old Church to help preserve valuable information of this cultural heritage site for future generations. Accurate measurement data will also help those planning the restoration and repairs of the church.

The 3D digitisation of Petäjävesi Old Church was carried out in 2023–2024. The 3D scan was commissioned by the Finnish Heritage Agency as part of its project, 3D Modelling of World Heritage Sites, funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The Agency chose Petäjävesi Old Church for 3D digitisation because, as a property inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List, it is a particularly important and representative building not only in Finland but also in Europe. 

Finland has submitted the 3D digitisation of Petäjävesi Old Church to the European Commission's Twin it! 3D for Europe's culture campaign, which invites European countries to showcase emblematic and high-quality samples of their cultural heritage assets in 3D.

“The 3D modelling of Petäjävesi Old Church is a great example of how we can explore historical sites from new perspectives by combining our technological expertise and rich cultural heritage. This also shows how those working in the cultural sector can create innovative services with their colleagues in other fields, such as tourism, education or games,” says Minister of Science and Culture Sari Multala.

The public can access the 3D model online, free of charge, at and on the Finnish Heritage Agency's Finna page. The 3D model is also available through the Europeana Initiative, which displays a wide range of information on European digital cultural heritage. Finna collects data from Finnish cultural heritage organisations and submits it to Europeana. The raw data and archived version of the Petäjävesi 3D model are stored in the Finnish Heritage Agency's system.

3D reconstruction provides new, accurate data that can be used for monitoring the church's condition and planning its restoration. Data would also help in potential rebuilding if a part of the church is destroyed. The scanning was carried out in September 2023. The church was captured three-dimensionally from inside and outside with a combination of laser scanning and photogrammetry. Over a period of two weeks, the church structures were digitised with the help of laser scanners, system cameras, tachymeters and drones.  

To enable the digitisation, the Finnish Heritage Agency signed a cooperation agreement with Petäjävesi Parish, a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. The Finnish Heritage Agency's experts specialised in the digitisation of cultural heritage and the built cultural environment contributed to the project. In addition, representatives of Perinnerakentaja Leo Lönnroth, a building company renovating the church, were closely involved in the project. The technical work and building information modelling was carried out by Tietoa Finland.

Ismo Malinen, Finnish Heritage Agency, tel. +358 295 33 3682
Tapani Sainio, Ministry of Education and Culture, tel. +358 295 330 336
Maria Virtanen, Finna/National Library of Finland, tel. +358 294 144 326 

3D models online 

3D surface model of Petäjävesi Old Church 

3D surface model of the original pulpit 

3D reconstruction of Petäjävesi Old Church at Europeana

3D reconstruction of Petäjävesi Church pulpit at Europeana

Video describing the high-accuracy archive version of Petäjävesi Old Church 3D digitisation: YouTube (2 min)

Short documentary of Petäjävesi Old Church 3D digitisation: Youtube (11 min)

Twin it! A pan-European collection of heritage 3D models

Photo gallery

Finnish sites on the World Heritage List