Recreate British Museum Artifacts Through 3-D Printing

The 3-D printing scan of the British Museum's granite bust of Egyptian pharaoh Amenemhat III (1,800 BC), now available for download at Sketchfab. Photo: Sketchfab.

Thanks to the magic of 3-D printing, we’re all one step closer to owning a handful of the British Museum’s sculptures and sarcophagi, albeit in plastic. The museum has teamed up Sketchfab, a website which hosts downloadable 3-D scans shared by users around the world, to release 3-D printable scans of 14 objects from its holdings.

Dubbed the museum’s “first downloadable collection,” the Sketchfab offerings include a first-century Roman bust of Zeus from Hadrian’s Villa, an equally old marble head of Julius Caesar that has been sheared in two, and a granite bust of Egyptian pharaoh Amenemhet III dating to 1,800 BC, all of which can now be recreated as plastic models.

This isn’t the British Museum’s first embrace of modern technology to make headlines this fall: In September, the museum launched an initiative to build a to-scale model of the institution in popular online world game Minecraft (see: “British Museum Will Be Rebuilt in Minecraft.”)

As for 3-D printing, the technology is has already made its way to other major museums, such as the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., which recently added a 3-D-bust of President Barack Obama to its collection, the first ever to be made of a sitting US president (see “Obama Is First 3-D Scanned and Printed President“). New Yor’s Metropolitan Museum of Art previously released a free set of downloadable 3-D models of 75 pieces from its collection on thingiverse.

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