The Smithsonian, like most museums, have a strict "Do Not Touch" policy. It goes without saying that many of the objects in the museum's collection are very old and very fragile. Merely touching them could do immeasurable damage to the artifact. So, how do you get these objects into the hands of educators?
The Smithsonian has recently opened a new Web site called Smithsonian X 3D that allows you to view 3D models of the museum's collection. It's not complete just yet, but many of the most important objects - like the Wright Brothers' original airplane and Abraham Lincoln's Life Mask- are available. All of these are accessible via your browser and the 3D model can be downloaded for free.
Here's a video that details how the Smithsonian is bringing its collection to educators and 3D printing hobbyists everywhere:
While there's not a lot of models currently available for download, it's still an exciting start to what is perhaps the most ambitious attempt yet to digitally catalog and preserve history.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go download a Woolly Mammoth skeleton.[h/t: 3ders] [Image: Smithsonian]