Smithsonian Institute Releases Online 3D Models Including This Stunning Lincoln Life Mask

“If you think about the ways humans perceive the world, we see in stereographic vision, we perceive depth. So 3D scanning offers us sort of a natural way to capture and interpret the world around us.”

Those words are from Vincent Rossi who is working toward making historic objects available to the world, Vincent is the 3D Digitization Program Officer at the Digitization Program Office at the Smithsonian Institute.

With help from the Digitization Program Office, the Smithsonian has launched Smithsonian X 3D Beta, an online repository of 3D models.

“The Digitization Program Office is the hub for the Smithsonian’s inquiry into 3D. We support all 19 museums, 9 research centers and the National Zoo in their quest to increase the quantity and quality of Smithsonian digital assets..

With only 1% of collections on display in Smithsonian museum galleries, digitization affords the opportunity to bring the remaining 99% of the collection into the virtual light. All of these digital assets become the infrastructure which will allow not just the Smithsonian, but the world at large to tell new stories about the familiar, as well as the unfamiliar, treasures in these collections.”

According the Smithsonian staff, the Lincoln life mask above was created by sculptor Clark Mills on February 11, 1865. Lincoln may appear otherwise but he was alive during the casting taken a day before his fifty-sixth birthday. 

“The 3-D object you see is a 1917 copy from the casting given to the Smithsonian in 1889 by the sculptor’s son.”

The Smithsonian has produced a great video describing their 3D efforts. I can tell you from working with similar LIDAR 3D scanning technology, that 3D scans are one of the best ways to get an audience interacting with artifacts and locations they normally wouldn’t have access to. What would you like to see the Smithsonian digitize next? How could you use these objects?

Dennis "Fox" Bonilla is a Co-Founder and the Chief Executive Officer at Harbinger Creative where he develops next generation spatial computing technologies. Fox created Unified Pop Theory with his friends to bookmark and comment on novel intersections of technology, science, and the arts. Fox is a trend finder and idea maker who is inspired by individuals that believe the world can be changed one great project at a time. Want to collaborate? Reach out to Fox on LinkedIn.

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