Smithsonian unveils online 3-D viewer allowing visitors virtual look at famous artifacts


History buffs who can’t make it the Smithsonian now have a virtual pass to see some of the world’s most iconic artifacts.

The Washington, D.C., museum launched an online 3-D viewer Wednesday that brings a new perspective to familiar objects, including the Wright brothers’ first airplane, Amelia Earhart’s flight suit and casts of President Lincoln’s face during the Civil War.

“Historically, museums have just tried to push data out. It’s been a one-way street,” said Smithsonian digitization director Gunter Waibel. “Now museums are really rethinking their relationship with their audience, and they’re trying to empower their audiences to help them along whatever learning journey they’re on.”

The museum teamed up with the 3-D design firm AutoDesk in California to digitize part of its collection in an interactive site called Smithsonian x3D Explorer.

While most of the institution’s “flat” objects have been digitally preserved, the majority of the museum’s 137 million objects are three dimensional and still need to be fully captured.

Written By: Eric Ortiz
continue to source article at



    • In reply to #2 by A3Kr0n:

      I still don’t understand why we can’t use our logo on our webpages. I mean the Smithsonian is owned by the people, right? We should be able to use our on logo I would think.

      A logo is used to identify who is responsible for some bits of content. Seeing the logo means you give an extra level of trust (or doubt for some logos, e.g. Fox News) to whatever web site, video, etc. has that branding. So just letting any arbitrary person slap it on their web site would make it meaningless.

  1. I enjoyed the Smithsonian museums two years ago with my son, he was 12. We barely had enough time in one 12 hour visit to get to the things we valued. We had to forgo some of the sights to ensure that we’d see everything we wanted to.

    I loved the Natural History Museum (duhhh!) and i especially loved how the galleries were laid out in chronology of evolution order. Just awesome!

    If you go to DC to tour the museums (there are 19) plan on spending more than a day!!!! I am 3 hours away and planning to get there this summer for at least a long weekend.

  2. Wow, this is really cool – I can’t wait until they get a lot more items on their list.

    My in-laws lived in DC during ’85-’95, and during several trips there we visited all the good stuff, including all the Smithsonian exhibits. Being able to see some of those items in 3D from Toronto will be awesome…. 😎 Mac.

Leave a Reply