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Scottish Maritime Museum Joins Smithsonian in Global Project




The Scottish Maritime Museum has joined with 28 museums and cultural organisations across the world, including the famed Smithsonian Institution, to give the public free and uncopyrighted access to enjoy, download and re-imagine 3D scans of some of the world’s most incredible historic artefacts, fossils and works of art.

Through the innovative open access initiative on the Sketchfab website, everyone, from artists, filmmakers and teachers through to hobbyists and students, can download, manipulate and use 1,700 3D scans commercially or non-commercially for free and without seeking permission or giving credit.

These include SY Carolathe oldest seagoing steam yacht in the world (from the Scottish Maritime Museum); the Apollo 11 Columbia command module and Abraham Lincoln Life Mask (Smithsonian Institution); a Tyrannosaurus Rex skull (Digital Atlas of Ancient Life) and a fourth century B.C. sculpture (Minneapolis Institute of Art).

The Scottish Maritime Museum, which is based in Irvine, Ayrshire, has shared 3D models and 360° virtual tours of almost 50 of Scotland’s most important historic vessels, maritime artefacts and shipbuilding tools on Sketchfab, which is the world’s largest platform for shared 3D content.

The Scottish Maritime Museum began creating the 3D scans last year through Scanning the Horizon, a Museum project to help preserve and increase public access to Scotland’s national maritime heritage collection.

The Museum is one of the first of such size in Scotland to embark on a major 3D scanning project to digitalise a whole collection.

The first 3D scans captured include MV Spartanthe only surviving Scottish-built ‘puffer’; the 1898 built SY Carola; and the 1898 RNLB Jane Anne, a rare surviving example of a double-ended, self-righting lifeboat which is of huge importance to the Museum’s local community of Irvine.

The Scottish Maritime Museum’s scans also include a ‘Cat’s Head’ carving from the Cutty Sark; a steam hammer built by RG Ross & Sons for the 1907 opening of the Clyde Port Authority (Clyde Navigation Trust) repair workshops in Renfrew; and the stern of SS Rifle.

The complementary 360° tours of MV Spartan and SY Carola allow virtual visitors to ‘step on deck’, enjoy high-resolution panoramas and imagine what it would have been like to sail aboard.

The Scottish Maritime Museum is one of only two Sketchfab ‘launch collaborators’ in Scotland, alongside the University of Dundee Museum Collections, and three from the UK.

As well as the Smithsonian Institute, Digital Atlas of Ancient Life at the Paleontological Research Institution and Minneapolis Institute of Art, other cultural organisations across the 13 countries represented include the Faroe Islands National Museum, the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural de Chile, the National Gallery of Denmark and the State Darwin Museum in Moscow.

David Mann, Director of the Scottish Maritime Museum, explains:

“We are excited to officially launch our new and growing collection of 3D scans and virtual tours as part of the worldwide Sketchfab initiative and also on our own website as part of the Year of Coasts and Waters celebrations.

“Digital advances like this help our curators preserve and monitor the objects in our care and enable us to engage audiences with our outstanding maritime heritage collection in fresh and dynamic new ways.

“As well as online, they also have great potential for enhancing the visitor experience within the Museum itself. We hope to build on Scanning the Horizon, for example, by enabling visitors to manipulate 3D models on a large touchscreen and digitally explore the inaccessible sections of our most important vessels.”

Marta Pilarska, 3D Digitisation Project Manager at the Scottish Maritime Museum, adds:

“We’re really excited to make the vast majority of our 3D collections downloadable.

“Although the 3D models are under CC0 License, we would love to hear how they develop as they start to ‘live their own lives’.

“So, we’re asking all those who may be interested in playing with this data to tag us on social media (@scotmaritime) and use #ScanningTheHorizon so we can see their amazing projects!”

The Scottish Maritime Museum and Sketchfab have used the non-profit organisation Creative Commons License, which gives organisations across the world a free and easy way to grant copyright permissions for creative and academic works.

The Scottish Maritime Museum’s Scanning the Horizon project has been made possible through funding from Museums and Galleries Scotland and in-kind support from Historic Environment Scotland (Spartan and Carola), Leica Geosystems (Jane Anne), RPS Europe (Stern of SS Rifle) and Ulmus Media (UAV photography).

The Scottish Maritime Museum’s 3D models and virtual tours can be found online at www.scottishmaritimemuseum.org and at www.sketchfab.com

 Issued on behalf of the Scottish Maritime Museum by 

Joanna Harrison: 07884 187404 / joannaharrisonpr@aol.com

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