The Smithsonian has the nickname “America’s Attic”, and for a reason. It owns 137 million items, and it can’t have all of them on display at all times. So instead, it’s putting full 3D models of priceless artifacts online, so you can print your own!
Working with AutoCAD, the Smithsonian has launched Smithsonian X 3D. Essentially, it’s a storehouse for 3D scans of items the Smithsonian keeps in storage, ranging from a life mask of Abraham Lincoln to the Wright Flyer. And, if you want a copy, you can just download the file, send it to a 3D printer, and you’ve got your very own copy of a priceless artifact.
This is undeniably neat, but why is the Smithsonian doing this. Well, partially because of all the stuff sitting in storage that they can’t show. But also partially because it expands their mission of showing off world history and helps to preserve items that may not always be with us. After all, now that we’ve got the scan, those models aren’t going anywhere. We’ll have these items, or at least representations of them, for as long as the Internet is around.
Secondly, it’s really, really cool. Admit it, what would you rather tax money being spent on, this, or a new chair for the Undersecretary to the Administrator to the Subdepartment of The Department of Departments? We thought so.