Not only is New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art the most visited institution for the arts in the United States (and second only to the Louvre worldwide), it represents a unique marriage of art with America’s own brand of democracy. You see, back in 1870, the Museum’s founders envisioned it as a means to bring art and art education to the American people and, today, in keeping with that ideal, the Met has embraced 3D printing which, itself, embodies the democratization of innovation.
On Thursday, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced it has teamed up with MakerBot Industries to host the Museum’s first ever 3D printing Hackathon. This weekend, the Museum hosted Met 3-D, a two-day, invitation-only event in which some 25 digital artists and programmers used portions of “the Museum’s vast encyclopedic collections” as a springboard for the creation of new objets d’art, but with a 3D twist. According to the Museum’s Now at the Met blog, this groundbreaking workshop is meant to assess the potential of 3D scanning and replicating technologies to “engage artists and visitors with the Museum’s collections.”
The Museum opened up a good portion of its collection—the American Wing, Asian Art, Oceanic Art and European Sculpture and Decorative Arts sections—to the visiting artists. Members of the Museum’s digital media, education and curatorial staves, as well as MakerBot artists and employees, were on hand to talk shop with the attendees.
Armed only with simple digital cameras, the lucky artists photographed “select objects” and converted those images into 3D models using Autodesk 123D Catch. And then, “finally, through alteration, transformation, and combination, the artists [created] new works, which will be printed on MakerBot’s low-cost, open-source Replicator printer.”
This isn’t the first instance where a venerable art institution has engaged 3D printing. Back in April, we reported on the Smithsonian’s efforts to preserve its collections through 3D modeling and replicating. But what stands out about Met 3-D is that it strives for the creation of new art out of old. It’s pretty exciting news for 3D printing, and no one is more excited than the folks over at MakerBot. According to them, “This entire operation is the product of months of targeted planning and training. In fact, we have been working toward this day since the beginning of MakerBot as a company.”
For Bre Pettis—MakerBot’s co-founder and CEO—Met 3-D is a “dream coming true.” In a post on the company’s blog, Pettis, a former art teacher, gushed poetic:
“I’m so proud of the Met. It’s my town’s museum, and it’s a brave and bold institution, and it is so forward thinking that they’ve invited us in to scan, hack, and make things. When I started Thingiverse, I knew that I wanted the classic sculptures of the world to be in the universal library of things, but I imagined that someone would have to pull off the ultimate heist to make that happen. Instead of having to steal the art, the Met shares the future vision of MakerBot where the greatest artworks of the world are accessible to everyone and they’ve invited us in to make history and share the art with the world.”
As always, 3D Printer Hub welcomes your comments. And if you’ve got a hot tip from the world of 3D printing, or you’d just like to make a suggestion for future articles, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next time, keep on pushing those dimensions.