History and Art History
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Students in "The Museum" Produce 3D Printing Projects

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This semester students in "The Museum," an art history course taught by Jacquelyn Williamson, an assistant professor in the Department of History and Art History, have an unusual assignment. For their final project, students are incorporating a semester-long 3D printing project.

Earlier in the semester, the class had two sessions where they were introduced to the possibilities of new technologies in museums, and they were trained in 3D printing. After these classes the students chose their subject and research agenda. The 3D printing laboratory in the Johnson Center was open for their use all semester. Jim McLean trained the students and helped with the technical aspects of the project.

3D printing is starting to be used extensively in museums—from printing out full reconstructions of broken objects to printing dinosaur fossils that otherwise cannot be handled or studied without damage. 

Students mostly chose an object in a museum that was not in a case, permitting them to scan the object in person. The final paper includes an analysis of the object and its context in its society of origin.

Using the object as the jumping off point students will also explore the application of 3D printing/digital technologies in art museums, both in general and the chosen object specifically. For example, some students discussed how to use the technology for research, for museum profit, or for museum education. Some students presented on the application of 3D printing for the visually impaired: a reproduction of a statue or painting that can be touched without harming the original.

You can examine photos of the students' projects on Flickr.

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