Autodesk has been working with the Smithsonian for over a year to bring some of the collection to more people by digitizing the objects in 3D and placing on the web to explore since only about 1% of the entire collection of over 130 million objects are ever on public display. The digital will compliment the museum and original objects and are not meant to be a replacement.
Today the Smithsonian's Secretary Wayne Clough announced the new Smithsonian x3D Explorer as a beta. Many technology partners worked with the Smithsonian to capture and present the first objects of the collection including many iconic objects. The Smithsonian x3D Explorer allows users in a web browser (WebGL based) to interact with the objects like the Wright Flyer, US President Lincoln life mask, Amelia Earhart's flight suit, Whale Fossils from the desert in Chile Cosmic Buddha, and ranging in scale from an Embreea Orchid to the CasA Supernova Remnant and even 3D print some of them. The objects were laboriously digitized in 3D by the Smithsonian using many different technologies like laser scanning, micro-ct, and photogrammetry.
No more "don't touch" warning signs or wondering what the object looks like on the other side or on closer inspection. This is an exciting new compliment to the physical exhibit collections in museums allowing people all over the world to explore and learn or even 3D print your own copy for yourself or classroom.
I hope you will have a look at the amazing objects in 3D set free from their exhibits and glass cases for you to enjoy and explore. Try the functionality in the Smithsonian x3D Explorer powerful features like the ability analyze the objects with different surface colors, surface contours, take measurements, share your objects, and learn about the fascinating stories from the museums curators about the object. Not only can you interact with the objects but you can take guided tours of key areas in the Smithsonian x3D
What the press said:
Gizmodo - The Smithsonian Is Uploading Its Lost Treasures to the Internet
Engadget - Newly launched Smithsonian X 3D Collection offers historical models you can print at home
Dexigner - Smithsonian X 3D Explorer
Washington Post - Smithsonian makes 3D imaging push
readwrite - Now You Can 3D Print Priceless Smithsonian Artifacts
TheVerge - The Smithsonian is now sharing 3D scans of artifacts with the public
quick Photos from the first day of the event:
Smithsonian x 3D Videos:
For the Autodesk portion although I was involved in the very beginning of this amazing project, the heavy lifting of the vision and hard work for the Smithsonian x3D Explorer goes to Tatjana Dzambazova, Sr. Product Manager, IPG-Reality Computing and Brian Mathews, Vice President and Group CTO, Reality Computing, Ralph Wiedemeier, and definitely to the late Tony Peach who was mentioned during the x 3D conference opening.