Art & Sculpture

Scan the World partners with Google Arts & Culture for open-source 3D printable artefacts

London-based cultural heritage project Scan the World has teamed up with Google Arts & Culture to expand its collection of open-source, 3D printable art.

The partnership will leverage Scan the World’s expertise in open data and 3D printing technologies and Google Arts & Culture’s storytelling platform to put 3D printable artefacts in the hands of enthusiasts, educators, and artists. 

Data archived on the Google Arts & Culture platform will be viewable in 3D, with STL files able to be downloaded from Scan the World on 3D file marketplace MyMiniFactory’s website.

Scan the World uses a variety of 3D scanning techniques to capture art from around the world, which are then digitized and optimized for 3D printing. Photo via SMK Museum.
Scan the World uses a variety of 3D scanning techniques to capture art from around the world, which are then digitized and optimized for 3D printing. Photo via SMK Museum.

Open-source 3D printable art

Founded in 2014 by Jonathan Beck, Scan the World is a cultural heritage project that uses a variety of 3D scanning techniques to capture art from around the world. The scans are then digitized and optimized for 3D printing before being made freely available to the 3D printing community, educators, and other artists. 

The project has hit a number of significant landmarks in its history, and today has more than 17,000 objects in its 3D printable collection. Although some museums were initially wary of the project, Beck has since been welcomed into both private and public collections as institutions became more receptive to the project and recognized its importance.

The Victoria & Albert museum, in particular, was an early champion of Scan the World, inviting the project to take part in its exhibition ‘A World of Fragile Parts’ in 2016, in conjunction with La Biennale di Venezia. This was believed to be the first time a national gallery had chosen to permanently exhibit 3D prints of this kind, with Scan the World engaging the services of London-based 3D printing service 3DCompare to help with the project. 

So far, the community-based project has worked with over 50 cultural institutions to offer free end-to-end scanning and archival services in order to deliver data that is open, accessible, and optimized for 3D printing to the masses. 

Scan the World is a cultural heritage project that uses a variety of 3D scanning techniques to capture art from around the world. Photo via Abbey Ellis.
Scan the World has more than 17,000 objects in its 3D printable collection. Photo via Abbey Ellis.

Joining forces with Google

Google Arts & Culture is an online platform that features image and video content from over 2,000 leading museums and archives who have partnered with the Google Cultural Institute. The platform aims to bring the world’s art and culture online in order to make it accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world.

The newly-announced partnership with Scan the World will see the data on Google Arts & Culture become viewable in 3D, with STL files available for download via Scan the World on MyMiniFactory’s website. 

Members of the 3D printing community, educators, and others will then be able to freely 3D print models of a huge variety of artefacts found in museums and cultural institutions around the world. 

The feature is an opt-in for data uploaders to Google Arts & Culture, and files can only be viewed if the creator agrees. If the creator revokes the agreement, the files will no longer be included on the platform.

The collection can be viewed on the free Google Arts & Culture app available for Android and iOS, as well as online.

The partnership will see the data archived on Google Arts & Culture become viewable in 3D, with STL files available for download via Scan the World. Photo via Scan the World.
The partnership will see the data archived on Google Arts & Culture become viewable in 3D, with STL files available for download via Scan the World. Photo via Scan the World.

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Featured image shows Scan the World is a cultural heritage project that uses a variety of 3D scanning techniques to capture art from around the world. Photo via Abbey Ellis.

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