Scan the World is an ambitious initiative that gives people the chance to experience 3D printed representations of artefacts in a remarkably tangible way, enabling the public to obtain content that they may never had physical access to otherwise. For people who would like to see particular objects of cultural significance in person or even have their very own copy to keep, Scan the World makes this all possible using cost effective 3D scanning and printing technologies.
Every object added to the Scan the World library originates from scanned data composed of a series of around 50 overlapping photographs in a process called photogrammetry, the raw scans are built using a software called Agisoft PhotoScan. By facilitating the proliferation of 3D scanning and printing, the project makes the public aware of its uses and how the technology is becoming an ever increasing part of our lives. Bridging the gap between technology and the public, Scan the World has become a community built platform and encourages people to get involved in different ways. With this in mind the project serves as a growing, living archive built by and for the public. But what can we do with printable facsimiles of cultural artefacts? The data that is collected for the objects is appropriately curated by users and professionals alike, serving as a concept for an open access museum of the future. These objects can be used for numerous outputs which can be explored below:
Cultural heritage is important for historical research and education as well as establishing a sense of identity amongst communities. Through documenting the past, cultural heritage comes in both physical and intangible forms which include objects, monuments, beliefs, rituals and traditions. Damage or complete demolition of cultural sites can result in many consequences that would be detrimental for the community and the wider knowledge that has been gained. Not only would the documentation of the past be affected, but also the identities and significance of these that have formed from them. It is also likely that the loss could impact the economic benefits that the heritage site or monument can produce for the community it is in. This threat has become increasingly apparent in recent times with environmental changes and human conflicts across the globe. Scan the World’s intention is to simply preserve endangered cultural heritage by digitally producing facsimiles of these objects which in turn create valuable records of culture and history. 3D technology can be used as a means of restoration, using the data sets from the same sculptor or trends of the time to rebuild broken artefacts. Similarly, if the artefact has been completely destroyed, an entire copy can be made using the 3D data that has been collected from the original. As a result, potential risk of damage and destruction are mitigated.
What does a museum’s collection, a public sculpture or even a building mean to those who are partially sighted or blind? The traditionally enforced museum rule of ‘Do not touch’ makes accessing culture close to impossible for people who have visual impairments. Scan the World creates accurate representations of these objects with intricate detail through cost effective production which in turn, provides someone with the incredible experience of touching and engaging with the artefacts. Similarly, for someone living in Australia wanting to explore the museum’s collection, the virtual archive not only allows people to ‘visit’ a collection wherever they are, but also to print it. The content scanned from numerous institutions can bring international collections together in one place for someone to explore at the comfort of their own home. Often, if they exist, museums will not have 3D data of their artefacts available to access or download for the public. With Scan the World, however, there are many objects that have been scanned and printed that can be viewed in its 3D platform or in its physical form, creating stimulated interaction and understanding of the craft involved.
For many smaller communities whose culture is not globally recognized or is at risk of being damaged or destroyed, Scan the World serves as a platform for copies of these objects to be made and shared with a global audience. Information is provided to give users a starting point, should they like to research more about the chosen artefact.
Many educational institutions are starting to think about how 3D technology can be useful for their students and there is added pressure to implement it into the school’s curriculum. Scan the World provides a platform for people to learn about about the technology, from generating a digital representation of a scene or object (photography and photogrammetry software), to the manipulation of it (zBrush/modelling software) and the output of 3D printing. Additionally, it teaches people about artefacts in ways which are interesting and interactive. Having access to its physical form and 3D virtual model makes it easier to understand what the artist is trying to portray and how they have achieved this by being able to move and touch it to study the transitions of space, angles and light.
A World of Fragile Parts, La Biennale di Venezia
Réunion des Musées Nationaux
Imperial War Museum
A World of Fragile Parts, La Biennale di Venezia
In ‘A World of Fragile Parts’, La Biennale di Venezia and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) explore the threats facing the preservation of global heritage sites and how the production of copies can aid in the preservation of cultural artifacts.
Ecological uncertainty, violent attacks, and the increasing demands of tourism are just a few of the factors putting global heritage sites and cultural artifacts at risk of destruction and loss. Copies and scans have emerged as a way of mitigating risk by providing valuable records of culture, and offering alternatives for a demanding public who want to experience historical sites and objects first-hand.
Museums have a long history of producing copies. In the 19th century, the V&A led an effort to produce and display plaster casts of significant works of art for the benefit of art students and local audiences who could not travel to important sites across Europe and its purpose built Cast Courts in the Museum still remain open today. Cast collections proliferated throughout Europe and America as an educational tool. However, in the early 20th century, attitudes towards the value of copies shifted, and many of these collections were discarded.
For the cast collections that survived however, a new value emerged: preservation. Through decades of careful conservation, museum casts have outlasted many of their originals, which have either been destroyed by war, or degraded through circumstance. These casts are now the prime transmitters of precious knowledge and culture.
With the emergence of new scanning and fabrication technologies, there is a renewed effort to preserve through copies. With that comes a host of difficult questions: What do we copy and how? What distinguishes a bad copy from one with lasting value? What is the relationship between the copy and the original in a society that privileges authenticity? And how can such an effort be properly coordinated at a truly global and inclusive scale?
New Palmyra Project
Scan The World
The Other Nefertiti
The digitizing and fabrication of Ernest Bevin
The Ernest Bevin 3D printed Bust was created by Scan the World for part of the Bevin Court Community Court Restoration, a project organised by the Islington Museum with funding given by the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2014. Bevin Court is a housing area and building in Islington that was completed in 1954 and remains a residential area today. Ernest Bevin (9th March 1881-14 April 1951), who the court is named after, was a trade union leader, a Labour politician and a statesman.
There had been a bronze bust of Ernest Bevin which was created in 1954 and placed at the main entrance of the court. Unfortunately by the 1990s the bust had been removed, of which the circumstances are still unclear. With the restoration project however, Scan the World was able to 3D print a copy of Ernest Bevin’s bust.
So how did we manage to create a 3D copy of the bust if the original had been removed? Luckily a number of busts of the Trade Unionist still survived. One had been made in 1929 for the Trade and General Workers Union (later becoming Unite the Union in 2007) and is located at their head offices in Holborn. The second bust was made in 1953 and given to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.The third existing bust sits in Tooley Street and was unveiled in 1955. All of the busts are very similar, with the Trade and General Workers Union badge worn on the left side of the Bevin being a common feature, something which the original at Bevin Court also had. The original bust in Bevin’s Court had a strand of hair over Bevin’s right brow like the one in Holborn, so that was the one that was scanned and used for creating the 3D version.
The bust at the head offices of Unite the Union was scanned using a digital camera using a process called photogrammetry and through using CAD (computer aided design) software, two small versions of the bust were created first to ensure that the Bevin Court community were happy with the design. Once approval was made, the real bust was printed in parts because of its large size (over 60cm tall). Pieced together like a puzzle, the edges were polished and then the bust was coated in real bronze by our studio artist Sarah. To see a timelapse of the process click here! It was recently unveiled at Bevin Court at a ceremony on the 23rd May with other projects that have been part of the restoration. It will be displayed in Islington Museum before moving to Bevin Court.
Scanning & Fabrication - MyMiniFactory & Scan the World
Post processing and finishing - Sarah Wade
Write up from Philippa Duployen
Réunion des Musées Nationaux
The Réunion des Musées Nationaux (RMN) is a French cultural umbrella organisation, formed in 2011 through the merger of the Paris National Museums and the Grand Palais. The RMN houses a casting workshop in the north of Paris where sculptures and artworks are cast for mass production and commission orders. In June 2015 Scan the World were given access to scan the archives of the workshop, many of these objects not currently on display. Notable objects include: Falconet's Seated Cupid, the head of The Genius of Liberty, The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer and series of busts of classical composers and Roman emperors.
Imperial War Museum
A helmet often has a story to tell and the Imperial War Museum has taken it upon themselves to share this with everyone, especially from World War I to II and encompasses wars across France, England, Germany and Prussia.
Scan the World was invited to collaborate with them in creating 3D prints of the hats and helmets so it can be transported beyond the walls of the museum.
It creates a haunting image when helmets, the very item that is supposed to protect you, is left on the battlefield - some intact and some often blown into fragments.
Let’s have a quick look at some helmets we scanned - click on the name to download and print your own helmet!
The Pickelhaube was a spiked helmet worn in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by German military, firefighters, and police. Although typically associated with the Prussian army, the helmet was widely imitated by other armies during this period.
The M15 Adrian helmet (French: Casque Adrian) was a combat helmet issued to the French Army during World War I. It was the first standard helmet of the French Army and was designed when millions of French troops were engaged in trench warfare, and head wounds from the falling shrapnel generated by the new technique of indirect fire became a frequent cause of battlefield casualties.
The World War 1 French Colonial Soldiers Helmet was introduced in 1915, it was the first modern steel helmet and it served as the basic helmet of many armies well into the 1930s. Initially issued to infantry soldiers, in modified form they were also issued to cavalry and tank crews. A subsequent version, the M26, was used during World War II.
World War 1 French Field Soldier’s Helmet - this dress hat would have been worn by a French field soldier during World War 1. The ‘field blue’ colour was the colour worn by the French soldiers at that time.
Above is a damaged German Stahlhelm Helmet. After the war farmers would collect these helmets and sell them onto (often American) soldiers who visited the site. Some soldiers would even damage the helmets further and claim them as their own to glorify their masculinity - the helmet was proof, not only of their imagination, but a reminder of the many things it has been through in an unpredictable environment.
Scan the World encourages the public to get involved with the project and help expand the archive through different opportunities, many of which are easy to do. It is through this engagement that people are able to have an active role in cultural heritage and its preservation.
scan a sculpture
One of the easiest ways to get involved is to create a scan of a sculpture using photogrammetry. This process is comprised of a series of around 50 overlapping photographs, created with a camera or smartphone. An easy step to step tutorial guide of creating a good scan is provided to ensure that the stages in the process are completed effectively.
Click here for the scanning tutorial
The work that is put into Scan the World often culminates in seminars and ‘scanathons’, held to broaden the discussion surrounding 3D technology and cultural heritage. Events that which have previously been held at places that include the La Biennale di Venezia, iMakr, the Northbank Festival and the V&A Digital Weekend, help spread awareness of the work and aims of Scan the World, demonstrating how people can contribute.
If you are interested in making a scanathon or taking part in an event, get in touch at email@example.com
clean up scan data
Before the scans can be uploaded onto the website, they are ‘cleaned up,’ meaning that different software such as Rhino and zBrush are used to refine and capture the details of the scanned 3D image. Sometimes a timely process, this is done to ensure that the 3D scan is able to print well and is accurate to the original sculpture. Due to the amount of scans that Scan the World receives, people who have experience with 3D software are always welcome to help prepare the scans for the printer.
If you have experience in 3D modelling or cleaning up scans using zBrush, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Accademia di Belle Arti, Florence
Art Institute, Chicago
Art Park Muzeon, Moscow
Asian Art Museum, San Francisco
Bode Museum, Berlin
British Museum, London
Cardiff Museum, Cardiff
Getty Center, Los Angeles
Islington Museum, London
Korea Museum, by 3dupndown
Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris
Jardin des Tuileries, Paris
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles
The Louvre, Paris
Metropolitan, New York
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Mosul Museum, Mosul
Musée Rodin, Paris
Musei Capitolini, Roma
National Archaeological Museum, Athens
National Art Museum of Copenhagen, Copenhagen
National Museum of Magna Græcia, Reggio di Calabria
National Portrait Gallery, London
Natural History Museum, London
Neues Museum, Berlin
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen
Palace of Versailles, Versailles
Palais des Beaux-Arts, Lille
Petit Palais, Paris
Quai Branly, Paris
Réunion des musées nationaux, Paris
Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto
Sainsbury Centre, Norwich
State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg
The Lincoln Collection, Lincoln
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Vigeland Sculpture Park, Oslo