Scan the World

Open 3D Heritage, an Introduction

Antinous as Dionysus by Jonathan BeckScan The World

Scan the World

Since its inception in 2014, Scan the World has built the largest ecosystem of free to download, 3D printable cultural artefacts. Hosting over 16,000 objects in its collection and through collaborating with over 50 cultural institutions, we serve as the authority on open 3D heritage. The expansive collection shares works from across the globe, all scanned from museums, public spaces and private collections.

Sleeping AriadneScan The World

Heritage at your fingertips

With a mission to build an open platform for anyone to contribute to and access using democratised new technologies, Scan the World serves as a public effort to bring culture to the masses in a way more tangible than ever before. As a museum without walls, our intention is to provide a meaningful contribution to education, preservation and accessibility, as well as encouraging an increased sense of cultural identity. Every object is free to download from MyMiniFactory, home to the largest platform for 3D printable objects, under the appropriate Creative Commons licenses.   

Sk0390 - Apollo Kitharodoidos by Scan the WorldScan The World

Empowered Community

Subversion is in our community's roots as Scan the World continues to challenge established cultural institutions and the perspective of digitised artefacts. We encourage anyone from around the world to share scans of their heritage, simply created through a series of overlapping photographs taken on a digital camera or smartphone. 

This democratised approach of 3D scanning (called photogrammetry) is processed with open source software before being optimised for 3D printing and released free-to-download from MyMiniFactory, home to the largest community for 3D printable objects. Every object tells a story, so our community of storytellers share a piece of their unique culture, in turn enabling them to share their views, artefacts and narratives with the world.  


Venus and Mars by Shane GriffinScan The World

Open Data, Open Creativity

With only 2-4% of museum collections on public display, the internet can make them accessible and in turn help inspire new knowledge, creativity and innovation beyond the institution's walls - as well as encouraging new audiences to visit or support the museum. This shift in dynamic enables people to reclaim the museum as their public space and access the culture that was made for them. Heritage should not be reserved and interpreted by the lucky few; instead, we should look to embrace digital and physical reproductions of collections to bring the narrative to the masses, encouraging knowledge to be disseminated by people.   

3D Scanning (2019) by CC-BY-NC, Nick Furbo, 2020Scan The World


Over 50 cultural institutions have found their home on Scan the World, with many working with Scan the World on official partnerships. 


3D scanning at The SMK by CC-BY-NC, Nick Furbo, 2020Scan The World

We digitise museum collections for free whilst still allowing the institution to have full ownership on the digital collection once online. This is all in aid of guiding museums to adopt 3D technologies and implement them, at the pulse of their institution, into their digital strategies.    

Scan the World homepage (2020) by Scan the WorldScan The World

A Global Initiative

Our future efforts look to support smaller communities and to disseminate the knowledge of democratised technologies, allowing people in more rural areas to share digital copies of their heritage as well as to generate new skill sets to increase employability within the constantly expanding technology industry.

Rani ki Vav 3Scan The World

Our most recent endeavour is Scan the World India, generating community stories through 3D models across the country. The objects, digitised by a travelling team of contributors, are shared openly with the intent of helping others around the world take inspiration from their heritage. These stories help to spark intrigue and help to build towards a global understanding of the world's customs. 

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, Scan the World, From the collection of: Scan The World
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Scan the World is constantly evolving, and accepts 3D scan submissions from anyone across the globe. We provide training, tutorials and resources for those who have never scanned an object before. To find out more, email us at

Credits: Story

Email —
Twitter — @scan_the_world
Instagram — @scantheworld 

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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