Scan The World: Interview With Rob Cawston from the National Museums Scotland


4 months ago

Scan the World visited the National Museums Scotland in Edinburgh with a shared vision of creating accessible cultural heritage for the wider world. The museum’s collection spans from across the world, from China to Egypt and more. During the visit, Scan the World conducted a small scanathon with the digital team, creating four models now published on MyMiniFactory.


Conducting an interview with Head of Digital Media Rob Cawston, Scan The World was able to grasp a strong understanding of what modern 3D scanning technology and digitizing cultural heritage means to the National Museums Scotland and the people of Scotland.


The democratization of cultural heritage is becoming increasingly paramount with such uncertain times surrounding us. With the emergence of a global lockdown and many nations unable to access sites of cultural heritage such as museums, galleries and more are forced to close their doors to the public, Scan The World (working in partnership with museums around the world) is able to liberate this culture and grant you admission to artefacts that would otherwise be inaccessible.


Tell us about yourself and the National Museum of Scotland

This small project was coordinated with the Digital Media Team (working with Jon from Scan The World) to test out laser-scanning within one of the more accessible galleries at the National Museums Scotland – our Traditions in Sculpture gallery features works from across the world and is situated on a top-floor balcony in our Grand Gallery allowing Jon and the team to scan objects whilst the museum was open.



Why have you decided to digitize your cultural artefacts?

Digital assets, content and communication offer new ways to talk about our collections and reach people no matter where they are. Even if people will never visit our museums, making the collections accessible to the widest possible audience forms an essential part of our mission to “preserve, interpret and make accessible for all, the past and present of Scotland, other nations and cultures, and the natural world.”


What does 3D scanning mean to the museum?

At National Museums Scotland we’ve been working with our Collections Team and Curators to explore 3D digitization across different types of objects in the National Collections.  Although a relatively new area or work of us, we are really keen to explore the possibilities of 3D scanning. Most of our collections are made up of three-dimensional cultural artefacts and allowing people to view accurate 3D representations of objects opens up new possibilities – from researchers viewing objects without the need for physical access to educators using models for virtual or 3D-printed handling object and creators using the models as inspiration.


What is your favorite sculpture that we scanned?

I think this would be the Joseph Hume marble bust for the significant role he played in championing universal suffrage and religious freedom (and the detail the artist has captured in his hair).

Here are some new 3D scans from the National Museums Scotland, uploaded today for you to download and 3D print!








We will be visiting the museum again soon to scan more of their collection, but in the meantime, we want to see your 3D prints, remixes and renders!

Want to contribute to Scan The World’s mission to liberate cultural heritage for all to access? Get in touch with or start uploading your 3D scans to MyMiniFactory!


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