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Smithsonian 3D Prints Its Archives To Provide Greater Access To Its Collection

Smithsonian 3D Prints Its Archives To Provide Greater Access To Its Collection
culture

The institution is printing and scanning various items from its vault to allow the pieces to be displayed in more than one place simultaneously.

Emma Hutchings
  • 1 march 2012

The Smithsonian has started a new initiative to make its enormous collection more accessible. It includes a series of 3D printed models of its archive items and a digital archive of scanned objects. These could be exhibited at museums, schools and other places to enable more people to have access to them.

CNET reports that only 2% of the Smithsonian’s 137 million items is available to the public at any one time. That is why it is planning a digital archive of 3D models, which could then be printed and displayed to expand their reach.

As part of the project, RedEye On Demand recently created a 3D printed “museum-quality historical replica” of a Thomas Jefferson statue they had scanned, which was then installed for the “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty” exhibit at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The initiative has an ambitious goal but 3D digitization coordinators Adam Metallo and Vince Rossi are slowly building out the Smithsonian digital archive. Currently, only a few dozen objects can be scanned each year, some of which will be 3D printed while others will be digital 3D models. They hope that in the future there will be lots of 3D printed exhibits and models on display for everyone to enjoy.

Smithsonian

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