Making Your Own Copies of the Met's Masterpieces with a 3D Printer

By Veronique Greenwood | June 11, 2012 2:40 pm

Marsyas, by Balthasar Permoser, is made of marble. Copy of Marsyas, by Bror, is made of thin layers of plastic extruded by a 3D printer.

One of 3D printing’s most whimsical promises—and this is a technology whose promise, at this point, is mostly whimsical—is the ability to copy and riff on nearly any physical object. Last week, that promise, as far as a handful of famous sculptures is concerned, became a reality: a group of 3D printing enthusiasts from the MakerBot community visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and scanned 34 sculptures with 3D capture software loaded on their phones, while Met curators guided them through the galleries.

The scans were then converted into blue prints that people with 3D printers can use to make their own tiny copies or to make their own works of art. People have already begun to print their own, like the bust of Marsyas above, and post their photos on Thingiverse, MakerBot’s social database of designs.

You can see all of the sculptures and their digital files here.

Reclining Naiad, by Antonio Canova (Italian, Possagno 1757–1822 Venice). Copy of Reclining Naiad, made by Bradpokey.

  • Chris Hawkins

    I did a similar thing and got it printed in full color sandstone from Zcorp (via Shapeways). The color wasn’t exactly right but…I posted about it on the Shapeways forum here in case anyone wants to see the result-

    The trick is to make it hollow so it doesn’t cost a jillion dollars.

  • nessy agnes

    Great technology guys. Of course, nothing can replace true art as well as artistic talent. Yet the notion is fantastic. You can create a database of all famous pieces of art.

  • tOM Trottier

    How about virtual sculptures you can rotate in 3D, zoom in, etc., in full colour? Museums – where are you?


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