Smithonian plans

Source, Feb 24, 2012: Smithsonian turns to 3D to bring collection to the world

From the article:

With just 2 percent of the Smithsonian's archive of 137 million items available to the public at any one time, an effort is under way at the world's largest museum and research institution to adopt 3D tools to expand its reach around the country. (...) Representative of that effort, the museum is touting the 3D printed replica of a Thomas Jefferson statue that it recently installed for the "Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello: Paradox of Liberty" exhibit at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. According to the museum, this is the "largest 3D printed museum quality historical replica" on Earth and is a copy of a statue on display at Monticello, the Thomas Jefferson museum in Virginia. Thomas Jefferson: The Smithsonian's 3D printing pioneer 1-2 of 10 Scroll Left Scroll Right According to Adam Metallo, a 3D digitization coordinator at the Smithsonian, the team working on the Jefferson replica project decided that rather than use a traditional method involving rubber molding and casting, they would utilize modern technologies. Taking a Minolta laser scanner worth well up to ,000 along, they contracted with Studio EIS to generate an intricately detailed 3D model of the statue that was then turned into the 3D printed replica by RedEye on Demand. Now, with that high-end scanner, as well as less expensive tools that include normal digital cameras and freely available cloud-based digitization software, Metallo and his fellow 3D digitization coordinator Vince Rossi are slowly setting out to begin building a new Smithsonian digital archive. They hope this initiative will eventually lead to scores of 3D printed exhibits, as well as countless 3D models that could theoretically be used in the museums, in schools, or just about anywhere people have an interest in the Smithsonian's vast physical holdings. The only problem? They need more companies that, like RedEye On Demand, have the resources to help bring the efforts to fruition. Two people, 137 million objects Metallo and Rossi's goal is clear: they want to build a large collection of 3D scanned objects and archaeological sites that can support the entire Smithsonian complex. They've got technology on their side--with minimally invasive laser scanners they can capture the geometry of just about any object or site with accuracy down to the micron level. But their resources are few, and the two told CNET that they have to be smart about the projects they choose to digitize. They have to know that their work is going to tell a story in a new way or give researchers new tools in order to justify spending the time it takes to do the work. Still, their goal is noble. They're creating what Rossi called a "digital surrogate," a "new form of museum collection" that could mean a wealth of information that could be available to anyone with a computer, or at the very least, to a wide variety of museums, schools, and other interested institutions. At the same time, they face one of the key problems of digital archiving: ensuring that the data they create today will still be usable decades from now. That's because Rossi explained, software tools that are in use today may be obsolete down the road. Still, he said, it's also true that 3D models are really just large sets of geometry captured in millions of points, data that is stored in long text files. So as long as they're thoughtful about how they do it, recovering the data shouldn't be a problem in the future. (...)