It may start with a few dedicated individuals, but the trail now blazed at the Smithsonian will lead to a proliferation of data, culture and history with its new X 3D project. The project currently works to collect 3D scans of objects available to the Smithsonian and deliver the data to the world. To do this, the Smithsonian is partnering with Autodesk. There is a site available to explore the 3D scans and download for 3D printing. It has altered the interaction between the museum and patrons.
The library already available offers stunning 3D scans. The Smithsonian is known for a level of cultural detail and reverence for the science and history of objects, and that essence carries into their scans. The ability to download the scans and print them with your own 3D printer opens a new caveat in the museum experience. Most people will miss the opportunity to see the immense collection and information the Smithsonian offers. The ability to download a scan and print objects from their catalogue brings the museum to the individual. It may even enhance what would normally be a sterile interaction.
We often experience museums through glass and barriers. The object, held sacrosanct as they deserve, sits out of reach, out of touch. With good reason, the barrier separates the patron from the object. The ability to print the object and hold the object in many ways makes the interaction with history more intimate. It is literally in your hands. No longer in glossy magazines or behind rope, the Smithsonian can spring to form in labs and homes with 3D access.