The 3D Museum

As part of Culture24’s Let’s Get Real: Young Audiences conference, I’ll be co-facilitating a discussion group around 3D and museum objects. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of the 3D models I’ll be highlighting on the day!

The Discovery Programme

This programme is a national archaeological research body supported by the Heritage Council. The 3D models have been created as part of the 3D-ICONS project. That’s a collection of highly accurate 3D models of over 130 iconic monuments and buildings from Ireland.

The model below is of the Poulnabrone Portal Tomb, which is a Neolithic portal tomb. You can find out more about these types of tombs through Wikipedia.


The British Museum

The British Museum is probably one of the best known museums currently making 3D models to engage the public. In general, 3D models have often been made for research purposes, rather than as a new way to explore heritage, history and objects.

This model is of a king from the Lewis chessmen collection. The collection was discovered in 1832. But the pieces date back to the 12th century, in Norway.


Małopolska’s Virtual Museums project

This project is focusing on museum collections and objects from the Małopolska region of Poland. They’re using 3D to open up the collections, and preserve them for future generations. The models range from TVs from the 80s to decorative horns, like the one below.

The Horn of Salt Diggers was made in 1534, probably in Krakow. It was created to celebrate the relative wealth of the Krakow salt mines. The figure holding the horn is Hercules, and he resembles the hard work and dedication of the salt miners at the time.


The Horniman Museum

The museum has a wonderfully diverse collection – from natural history to social history pieces. The Horniman was one of the first London / UK museums to start using the 3D model sharing platform, Sketchfab. Though a number of museums have been making 3D models in general for some time prior. Like the Petrie Museum, for example.

The Dodo is one of the museum’s most loved objects (sorry Horniman Walrus). Considering it’s now over 2 years old, the model still holds up. It’s also a good example of what happens to fluffy, feathery or fury objects when you scan them (they tend to look a little clumpy when you zoom in).


Auckland Museum

The museum has a number of great models on Sketchfab, from large spiders to machine-guns. But one of their most interesting models was initially built in Minecraft, for their Gallipoli in Minecraft project.

This is a model of an Allied naval vessel, used during the WW1 Gallipoli campaign. The model was built in Minecraft and is around 160 blocks long. Museums are doing some great things with Minecraft – but few are exporting those models and creations for people to see outside of the platform.


The Royal Armoury (Livrustkammaren)

The Royal Armoury have some amazing models on their Sketchfab profile. Two things that they model really well are shiny objects, and materials – both of which are notoriously difficult.

My personal favorite model of theirs is this helmet, with its incredible visor. It’s a stunning object – but the shine on the model is brilliant. Shiny objects are incredibly difficult to digitise in 3D. Here’s a video explaining how they did it.


So there’s a roundup of some of my favorite 3D museum objects and scans, taken from Sketchfab. Feel free to share yours in the comments section.

But what can you do with them?

I hear ya. You’re probably sitting there thinking “wow, wonderful, but what happens next?”. WELL. Great question. You’ve got plenty of options, and below are a few that we’ll be discussing in the breakout session.

Print them using a 3D Printer

Host them in a VR space

Display them in your gallery on a tablet

OR use QR Codes (remember those?) or iBeacons in your gallery to direct people to 3D models

Take prints to schools, so that they can use them as a handling collection

Give kids free reign to use the data in creative ways

Embed them on your website

Print 3D models to go next to original pieces on display, to use as tactile objects

And much more…

So, if you’re going to the Conference, be sure to register for the ‘3D Scanning and Printing’ breakout session!

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