Art & Sculpture

Egyptian Civilisations brought to life for the BBC at Fab Lab Warrington

Egyptian artifacts discovered at Ancient burial sites have been faithfully recreated by 3D printing at Fab Lab Warrington. A series of canopic jars, used to preserve organs for the afterlife, and other objects were made as part of a festival held by the BBC that saw museums up and down the country come to life with new, interactive exhibits.

3D modeled head of a canopic jar by Lee Robert McStein/Monument Men.
3D modeled head of a canopic jar by Lee Robert McStein/Monument Men.

Powered by MIT and the Manufacturing Institute 

Fab Lab Warrington is unique in the sense that it is the only UK Fab Lab based in a school for 11 – 16 year old pupils. Founded in 2016, in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the UK’s Manufacturing Institute, the lab’s aims are to create community engagement in STEM subjects and teach valuable skills to students of the school.

Team members of the lab are encouraged to develop their own projects to explore the lab’s facilities. They also take on external projects, such as this one in collaboration with a museum in the North West of England.

Facilities at Fab Lab Warrington include FFF/FDM 3D printers from Maker Bot and Raise 3D, a CNC machine, laser cutter, casting bay, Phantom 4/Parrot Mambo drones, sewing machines and saws.

Take home a piece of Egypt

Fab Lab Warrington was contacted by the Touchstones Museum in Rochdale to become part of project for the BBC’s Civilisations festival, which was launched in celebration of the release of the channel’s art history series of the same name.

Touchstones has a permanent collection of Ancient Egyptian monuments and artifacts. To give visitors a hands-on experience of this collection, Fab Lab Warrington 3D printed tactile replicas of the objects.

3D printed Canopic jars were given away as souvenirs during the Civilisations festival, and the museum has invited Fab Lab Warrington to work on future outreach projects.

Touchstones souvenir canopic jars. Photo via Fab Lab Warrington
Touchstones souvenir canopic jars. Photo via Fab Lab Warrington/Warrington Guardian

Transforming museum collections 

Lee Robert McStein, a digital heritage consultant for non–profit organization Monument Men, helped to create accurate 3D models of Touchstones’ artifacts based on 3D scans and photogrammetry. Since the festival Lee has also produced a complete digital reconstruction of one of the British Museum’s largest Egyptian statues, The Younger Memnon – combining the British Museum’s publicly available data via the website Sketchfab., along with his own on site photogrammetry scans in Egypt.

The Rosetta Stone, undoubtedly the most famous piece in the British Museum’s collection, recently caused a stir in the 3D community when it was digitally recreated “for the first time.” The museum is also working closely with 3D cultural heritage service provider ThinkSee3D Ltd. that helps create detailed reconstructions of select pieces in the collection.

The Other Nefertiti, by Nikolai Nelles and Nora Al-Badri, is also one of the most famous, and controversial, arts and heritage applications of 3D scanning and 3D printing to date.

The Other Nefertiti, Nora Al-Badri & Jan Nikolai Nelles
The Other Nefertiti 2016, Nora Al-Badri & Jan Nikolai Nelles.

3D digitization

For many museums, 3D models and open-source sharing are key pillars for staying relevant in a digital age.

We discussed the importance of art’s digitization in an exclusive interview with Jonathan Beck, manager and founder of Scan the World.

Museum in a Box is also a big advocate for the sharing of museum collections, and has thus far worked with over 20 museums to create bespoke, interactive tokens for visitors. We previously interviewed the Museum in a Box team to learn more.

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Featured image shows a miniature, 3D printed, canopic jar in front of the real deal at Touchstones Museum. Photo via Fab Lab Warrington/Warrington Guardian