According to The Creators Project, the Smithsonian has over 137 million pieces in its collection, but only enough room to display about two per cent of them. So it's turning to 3D printing to share as much as it can.
Working with a company called Redeye, who specialises in 3D scanning and rapid prototyping, the Smithsonian hopes to clone many of their pieces so they can be lent to other museums around the world and safely included in travelling exhibitions.
The first piece to go under the laser was a statue of Thomas Jefferson which the Smithsonian is claiming is the "largest 3D printed museum quality historical replica" ever created.
The results are apparently hard to distinguish from the original, and while I like the idea that a 3D digital archive of the piece is also being created, seeing reproductions in a museum just doesn't have the same appeal or fascination as staring at the real thing. [The Creators Project]
Photo: RedEye on Demand/Smithsonian via The Creators Project