Tuesday, 7 June 2016




In the past, Musings has explored the dark side of 3D printing, such as the ability to 3D print weaponry. We've also looked at self-generated 3D selfies. However, today I'd like to look at how 3D printing and scanning technology can have an impact on museum practice. While the technology is still being developed and improved, many museums have started using this technology to find creative ways to facilitate educational and conservation related goals. Without further ado, here's a short list of some 3D projects that have special implications for museums:

A screen cap of  an object from the Smithsonian X 3D  project (source)
1.The Smithsonian X 3D is a project that uses 3D capture methods to create 3D data as a way of documenting objects . The purpose of this project is to use the data so that museum educators and conservators can access information about the physical object without having to handle or even possess the object itself. the data can further be used for future 3D printing, or to compare current and past states of the same object for conservation purposes. Because only a small percentage of the Smithsonian's collection is ever seen by the public, this technology could also allow more people to see what the Smithsonian has in storage.

A rendering from CIMS work on a historic property in Nova Scotia (source)
2.The Carleton Immersive Media Studio (CIMS) at Carleton University creates 3D scans of heritage buildings in order record their current states, and facilitate restorations projects. This work has the potential to be immensely useful for Museums and heritage organizations as it could allow them to capture all kinds of data relating to objects and buildings.

A screenshot of 3D renderings created through crowd-sourced images (source)

3.Project Mosul is a crowd-sourced initiative by Reikrei to preserve data relating to cultural objects that are threatened by natural disasters or human intervention. Project Mosul specifically collects data related to objects from the Mosul Cultural Museum in Iraq that were destroyed by Daesh, sometimes also known as ISIS. The project has the support of the Iraqi Ministry of Tourism and Culture and is significant because it is preserving information about some of the earliest known evidence of human civilization which rests in some of the most vulnerable places in the world.

I hope this short list can highlight some of the ways that embracing 3D scanning and printing technology is changing the way that museums and organizations can disseminate and preserve knowledge about cultural heritage objects. This is just a small highlight of what can be done as use of this technology becomes more accessible and mainstream.

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