Like everything else, Museums are being disrupted by the Interwebs. The idea of getting into a car on a Saturday morning and driving 30 miles (or more) to walk around inside a very large quiet building.. just to look at artifacts under glass.. is downright prehistoric these days.
I’ve posted previously on The Giza Archives, a clever joint project of Dassault Systemes and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA). This real-time virtual 3D reconstruction of the Giza plateau was based on the MFA’s dusty and hard-to-love Egyptian archives.
Now a similar effort is underway at the world’s largest museum and research institution, which could eventually mean more of its 137 million objects in the Smithsonian Museum Collection will be publicly available, even if just via 3D digital models.
Fig 1. Bronze bust of Thomas Jefferson from a statue in the Smithsonian Museum, printed in 3D by Stratsys Red-Eye. Credit Stratasys/Smithsonian.
The Smithsonian has a very large problem.. most of its vast collection is underwater. Only 2% of the collection can be on-display at any given moment. This tip-of-the-iceberg problem makes it harder and harder for the museum to continue growing its collections.
Seriously. Why donate a priceless piece of American history to the Museum, if it’s just going to be crated, and stored in that endless warehouse from Raiders of the Lost Arc?
Two enterprising 3D Coordinators at the Smithsonian believe they have the answer. Their goal is to create what Rossi called a “digital surrogate,” a “new form of museum collection” that could mean a wealth of information that could be available to anyone with a computer.
Of course the team of two has very limited resources, and therefore is currently being very selective as to what they scan and translate into 3D. They also realize a digital archive of 137 million 3D geometry files has a set of unique problems all its own.
How would the Smithsonian keep the 3D data files current, avoid bit rot, and where would they even store these 3D Models online? They would need an entire online 3D Model library with advanced search, collections, and on-demand download capabilities.
All that is added expense and bother…Hrrmmm, let me think. Got it! Let me be the first to offer FormFonts 3D to the Smithsonian as the repository-of-record for their growing 3D digital collection! Seriously, we can handle this. Give us a call guys!
In Short – Museums are turning to digital publishing to make their vast collections virtual, so they can be more accessible, dimensional, and relevant to a net native generation of ‘museum goers’.
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