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3D Print 18,000 Famous Sculptures with Free Online Museum

Many museums around the world remain shuttered. Fortunately, you can still visit some of the best virtually, from the comfort and safety of your own couch. But why stop there? Forget just looking at pictures on your computer. You can now can bring some of the most famous and exalted works of art into your home. And you can do it for free. Thanks to an open source museum that lets you download and 3D print copies of sculptures and cultural artifacts.

Scan the World (which we first heard about at DesignTAXI) is a free-to-use “community-built initiative.” Its stated mission is to share 3D printable works of art with anyone by “producing an extensive ecosystem of free to download digital cultural heritage,” all by utilizing “democratised 3D scanning technologies.”

The site, founded by project manager Jon Beck, boasts nearly 18,000 (and counting) free scans for anyone to access. That includes some of the most revered works of art ever made. Like Michelangelo’s David and La Pieta, as well as Rodin’s The Thinker and The Winged Victory of Samothrace that resides in The Louvre.

Michaelangelo's La Pieta and Rodin's The ThinkerScan the World

Users can search the collection by name, artist, or location. Or you can hit “random” to discover a new piece you’ve never seen before. Even if you don’t own a 3D printer, the site serves as great introduction to all sorts of artwork. Each piece comes with a description of the work. There’s also technical information, like how big your copy will be, the complexity of the print, and how long it will take to finish. And of course you can also contribute a new scan yourself, just by using your phone.

Colossal reports that the site recently partnered with Google Arts and Culture. That should lead to thousands more pieces uploaded to the site, from more of the world’s best museums.

Even when museums reopen everywhere, Scan the World will provide an invaluable service. Especially because it’s free to everyone.