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Smithsonian embracing digital 3-D technology

February 28, 2012 | 11:55 am

  Jefferson3

Hollywood isn't the only industry to embrace digital 3-D technology. The art world has also taken a shine to the medium, implementing it in diverse ways to make works of art more accessible to the public. The latest institution to jump on the bandwagon is the Smithsonian in Washington.

The Smithsonian Institution is embarking on a project to create 3-D images of art, including a new digital 3-D archive of many of the objects in its collections, CNET recently reported.

The project also includes 3-D printed models, exhibits and scientific replicas, according to the report. One of the objectives is to make the Smithsonian's vast collections -- only a small percentage of which is on display at any given time -- viewable to the online public.

The Smithsonian has already created a 3-D printed replica of a Thomas Jefferson statue on display at the National Museum of American History in an exhibition titled "Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello." A Smithsonian official told CNET that digital scanning was used on the statue rather than the traditional method of rubber molding and casting.

With millions of objects in the Smithsonian's storage, the 3-D effort won't be complete any time soon. CNET reported that the project has limited resources and must be strategic about how to prioritize the various collections and works of art.

Digital 3-D technology has been used in various art initiatives around the world. The "Mona Lisa" by Leonardo da Vinci has undergone 3-D scanning in an effort to uncover some of the painting's secrets.  A handful of museums around the world are using 3-D to create virtual gallery tours.

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-- David Ng

Photo: A statue of Thomas Jefferson as part of the exhibition "Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello." Credit: Smithsonian


 
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