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.