The British Museum and 3D Printing

The trend in museums taking advantage of 3D printing continues! Like the Metropolitan Museum, the British Museum and 3D printing seem to be a great combination for patrons and printers alike. Earlier this month the British Museum worked in conjunction with Sketchfab to provide a variety of models of their artifacts. This opens up a number of new things to print for the history buff or art enthusiast. As this is a new step for them, we can only expect more in the future.

Images courtesy of the British Museum in London.

Images courtesy of the British Museum in London.

Specifically, they have 14 models mostly comprised of Ancient Egyptian artifacts and famous busts. Are you an art buff that would love your own statue? You can get print an effigy of Zeus. Or, how about a statue of Ramesses II, the most prolific pharoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty? They’ve got that too. There’s even a model of one of the iconic Easter Island hoa hakananai head statues.


Print your own! CC BY-SA 3.0

Sketchfab seems to have been a good choice of repository to host the models online. It gives a more polished profile and look than Thingiverse, and seems to have some nice professional services included. It also may allow for more detailed models of these priceless artifacts. It would be reasonable to expect more museums providing scanned models through their sites in the future.

The Modern Museum and 3D Printing

Museums providing virtual gift shops through online model repositories seems to be becoming a trend. This offers a number of advantages for everyone. It makes the relics more accessible to the public, but also helps draw visitors that want to see the actual pieces in person. These visitors are still passing by the gift shop and sometimes paying for admission, making it a net win for the museum’s funding. It stands to reason that anything offered by the museum gift shop will more likely than not be a higher quality and higher level of detail than what they expect people to be able to print at home. Having the models available online still gives anyone with access to a printer the chance to hold a piece of history, however.

This is amazing.

Hopefully this trend continues and more museums and institutions start leveraging the strengths of 3D printing. Both The Met and the Art Institute of Chicago have collections available on Thingiverse. Other similar sites might have these in the future.  The Museum of Modern Art offers 3D printed jewelry through their store, and had a special collection for sale last year of 3D printed items from MakerBot. As 3D printing continues to grow, it’s only going to be more common to be able to print the icons we preserve.

2016-12-21T05:35:21+00:00By |3D Printing, 3D Printing Resources, Applications for 3D Printing|Comments Off on The British Museum and 3D Printing