Story | Scan The World

Scan the World

04 July, 2019

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Since its inception in 2014, Scan the World has built the largest platform of free to download, 3D printable cultural artefacts. Hosting over 15,500 objects in its collection and through collaborating with over 50 cultural institutions, we serve as the authority on open 3D heritage. The expansive archive shares works from across the globe, all scanned from museums, public spaces and private collections alike.

With a mission to build an open archive for anyone to contribute to and access using democratised new technologies, Scan the World serves as a public effort to bring culture to the masses in a way more tangible than ever before. As a museum without walls, our intention is to provide a meaningful contribution to education, preservation and accessibility, as well as encouraging an increased sense of cultural identity. Every object is free to download from MyMiniFactory, the home to the largest platform for 3D printable objects.

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Subversion is in our roots as Scan the World challenges established cultural institutions, pushing them to consider open data by making 3D models of their collection available to all through the use of smartphones and digital cameras. Using a ‘photogrammetric’ approach the scan data comes in the form of a series of overlapping photographs and is processed into 3D models using open source software.

The data is optimised for 3D printing and, when uploaded the content is released under an open license* with appropriate metadata and backlinks to the original institution’s databases.

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Our future efforts look to support smaller communities and to disseminate the knowledge of democratised technologies, allowing people in more rural areas to share digital copies of their heritage as well as to generate new skill sets to increase employability within the 3D tech industries.

Get involved

Anyone with a smartphone or digital camera can contribute to the collection, no prior knowledge of 3D technologies is required! All that you need to do is take a series of overlapping photographs around any object which has cultural significance and send it to us at; we will do the rest by turning it into a 3D printable model and uploading it to your profile on MyMiniFactory.

If you are here from a museum, over 50 institutions have found their home on Scan the World, with many working with us on official partnerships. We digitise museum collections for free, working to the pulse of your institution and to compliment your existing digital strategy. A full rundown of our museums scheme can be found here.

This (well overdue) blog will follow Scan the World’s journey, creating resources to further assimilate 3D technologies into the Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM) industries.

Contact us:

Email -
Twitter - @scantheworld
Instagram — @scantheworld

Antinous as Dionysus — Statens Museum for Kunst — CC0
Discobolus — Statens Museum for Kunst — CC0 Velleda — Musée des Augustins — CC-BY-NC

*Licenses depend on the institution’s image licensing rules, though we push to release the data as openly as possible.

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