3D Scans of 7,500 Famous Sculptures, Statues & Artworks: Download & 3D Print Rodin’s Thinker, Michelangelo’s David & More

Last week we fea­tured the British Muse­um’s archive of down­load­able 3D mod­els of over 200 rich­ly his­tor­i­cal objects in their col­lec­tion, per­haps most notably the Roset­ta Stone. But back in 2015, before that mighty cul­tur­al insti­tu­tion put online in 3D the most impor­tant lin­guis­tic arti­fact of them all, a project called Scan the World cre­at­ed a mod­el of it dur­ing an unof­fi­cial com­mu­ni­ty “scanathon,” and it remains freely avail­able to all who would, for exam­ple, like to 3D print a Roset­ta Stone of their very own.

Or per­haps you’d pre­fer to run off your own copy of a world-famous sculp­ture like ancient Egypt­ian court sculp­tor Thut­mose’s bust of Nefer­ti­ti or Auguste Rod­in’s The Thinker, both of whose 3D mod­els you can find on Scan the World’s archive at My Mini Fac­to­ry.

There the orga­ni­za­tion, “com­prised of a vast com­mu­ni­ty of 3D scan­ning and 3D print­ing enthu­si­asts,” has amassed a col­lec­tion of 7,834 3D mod­els and count­ing, all toward their mis­sion ” to archive the world’s sculp­tures, stat­ues, art­works and any oth­er objects of cul­tur­al sig­nif­i­cance using 3D scan­ning tech­nolo­gies to pro­duce con­tent suit­able for 3D print­ing.”

Scan the World has­n’t lim­it­ed its man­date to just arti­facts and art­works kept in muse­ums: among its mod­els you’ll also find large scale pieces of pub­lic sculp­ture like the Stat­ue of Lib­er­ty and even beloved build­ings like Big Ben. This con­jures up the tan­ta­liz­ing vision of each of us one day becom­ing empow­ered to 3D-print our very own Lon­don, com­plete with not just a British Muse­um but all the objects, each of which tells part of human­i­ty’s sto­ry, inside it.

As much of a tech­no­log­i­cal mar­vel as it may rep­re­sent, print­ing out a Venus de Milo or a David or a Lean­ing Tow­er of Pisa or a Moai head at home can’t, of course, com­pare to mak­ing the trip to see the gen­uine arti­cle, espe­cial­ly with the kind of 3D print­ers now avail­able to con­sumers. But as recent tech­no­log­i­cal his­to­ry has shown us, the most amaz­ing devel­op­ments tend to come out of the decen­tral­ized efforts of count­less enthu­si­asts — just the kind of com­mu­ni­ty pow­er­ing Scan the World. The great achieve­ments of the future have to start some­where, and they might as well start by pay­ing trib­ute to the great­est achieve­ments of the past.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The British Muse­um Cre­ates 3D Mod­els of the Roset­ta Stone & 200+ Oth­er His­toric Arti­facts: Down­load or View in Vir­tu­al Real­i­ty

The British Muse­um Is Now Open To Every­one: Take a Vir­tu­al Tour and See 4,737 Arti­facts, Includ­ing the Roset­ta Stone

Artists Put Online 3D, High Res­o­lu­tion Scans of 3,000-Year-Old Nefer­ti­ti Bust (and Con­tro­ver­sy Ensues)

The Com­plete His­to­ry of the World (and Human Cre­ativ­i­ty) in 100 Objects

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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