COSMO WENMANThere are moments in history when the glare of science fiction lights the horizon.
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Making sculptural masterpieces accessible to all by 3D scanning and publishing their 3D printable files into the digital commons

My name is Cosmo Wenman, and for the last year I've been 3D scanning artwork in museums and using those scans to 3D print life-size reproductions. I've been sharing my 3D printable files online so that anyone can 3D print their own copies too. You can see some of my work here: It's been a labor of love for me. I've been doing it for myself, for other art lovers, and for students and educators--for anyone who's dreamed of owning fine sculptural art, but hasn't had the means until now.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a home filled with books of illustrations and prints which formed the basis for my own appreciation for the beauty, themes, and meaning in art. If you were lucky in the same way, and know how important that is, you'll want to know what's on the horizon.

Recent advances in 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies are opening up new opportunities for the average person to possess and enjoy beautiful sculptural artwork of their own. The children growing up today and tomorrow with 3D printers in their homes and classrooms are on the verge of becoming the very first generation to have an aesthetic sensibility informed by direct, hands-on access to the world's sculptural masterworks. Their cultural landscape and visual vocabulary will be richer, more complex, and more varied than ours. Sculpture and artifacts will be able to speak to them in ways that have never before been possible.

Eventually, 3D printable designs of the entire world's cultural heritage of sculptural masterworks will be available to everyone, and this project is my attempt to make that happen sooner rather than later.

Up until now I've been doing my scanning work solo, just walking into museums and scanning what was accessible. But now I've found an institution that shares my goal of freely disseminating art using every available tool.

The Skulpturhalle Basel museum in Switzerland has an incredible collection of more than 2,000 high quality 19th and 20th century plaster casts of important ancient Greek and Roman sculptures. The Skulpturhalle has given me permission to 3D scan sculptures of my choosing, and to share the 3D designs without any restrictions.

This is a tremendous opportunity to bring great art into people's lives.

I will 3D scan a selection of plaster casts of important, archetypal sculptures at the Skulpturhalle and publish the scans and 3D printable files into the public domain, copyright-free, so that anyone, anywhere, can download, alter, adapt, or 3D print them for themselves.

I'll publish the 3D printable files online at, where they will be available for free, for any use, without restriction, for teachers, students, artists, art lovers--for everyone.

I will also exhibit at least one life-size bust, 3D scanned and 3D printed, from the Skulpturhalle, at the London, Paris, and New York 3D Printshows.

By backing this project, you will be publishing the very first publicly-available 3D surveys of these important works. You'll be making art history and bringing it to life.

This project will require weeks of photography and months of post-processing, 3D print-proofing, experimentation, and 3D model repair and optimization. There will be travel, materials, and some equipment expenses too. I've been successfully experimenting with this stuff for over a year. But now, to do it on this scale, I need your support.

Please consider taking part in this new, experimental form of art patronage, integrating yourself with art and art history, and helping to close the distance between great art and the people who love it.

The Skulpturhalle has been preserving high quality 19th and 20th century plaster casts of these ancient masterworks (and more):

Medusa Rondanini     Venus de Milo     Hera Farnese     Charioteer of Delphi     Bronze Portrait of Alexander the Great     Tivoli Ares     Somzee Ares     Laocoon and His Sons     Athena from Marsyas Group     Artemision Bronze / The God From The Sea     Boxer of Quirinal     Head of Athena Lemnia     Head of Ares Ludovisi     Athena Parthenos     Wounded Amazon Sciarra Type     Diadumenos     Kritios Boy     Head of Farnese Heracles     Homer     Socrates     Plato     Pythagoras     The Kaufmann Head      Virgil     Winged Victory     Praying Boy     Kore of Beroia     Pseudo-Seneca / Aristophanes     Molossian Hound     Head of Odysseus from the Sperlonga Group     Head of Menelaus from the Pasquino Group     Spinario / Boy with Thorn     Dancing Faun

I plan to scan at least 20 of these.

The Skulpturhalle's plaster cast inventory (in German) is here.

Here is a brief overview of the tradition of using plaster casts to share important artwork around the world--a tradition waiting to be reborn with 3D scanning and 3D printing.

The target names listed above are links to tweets with reference photos of the original works and a link back to this page; you can help me prioritize them and spread the word by clicking on your favorites and retweeting them.

And here's a re-tweetable gallery of all my targets. Go nuts with it.

Visit the Through A Scanner Facebook page and like or share your favorites. I've included reference links and commentary here too. Please leave comments of your own--why you like them, what you would do with them. If you're a teacher, please leave a comment about how you would use a 3D printed copy in your classroom; I'll share your idea here on this Kickstarter page.

Refer people to

Please back this project. I can't do it without your support. Please pick a reward and level of support that works for you, and tell your friends.

"Cosmo's work truly brings 3D printing into another realm. [He] shows that the technology is much more malleable than previously envisioned and has created some of the most impressive examples of 3D replication we have ever seen." -- Bre Pettis, CEO, MakerBot Industries

My 3D prints, which I made with a low-cost, consumer-grade desktop 3D printer.

Demonstrations and proofs of concept I've done recently include 3D scanning and 3D printing adaptations of works from the British Museum, the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Tate Britain, the Getty Villa, the Louvre, and the Norton Simon museum. They've been displayed at the 2012 London 3D Print Show, and the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show.

My life-size, solid bronze adaptation of the Getty Villa's bust of Caligula was recently displayed as an example of digitization and 3D printed reproduction at a conference of museum curators at the Smithsonian.

My 3D print of Hypnos was shown at the 2013 Museums + Heritage Show in London, and is now on display at iMakr in London, along with my reproduction of Jacob Epstein's 1933 bronze portrait of Albert Einstein and my 3D print of hominid fossil KNMER406, made on behalf of Louise Leakey's

This interview with the MythBusters guys' goes into some detail about the work I do to scan artwork and prepare the models for printing.

Here are the 3D designs I've scanned and shared so far. I'd like to scan and share many, many more.

There are millennia of beautiful physical forms that can be digitized, propagated, and remixed over and over again in perpetuity, starting now. They can become the foundation of an unlimited combinatorial explosion of adaptation and creation, and for untold new artwork and artforms in the coming years. Will the world's back catalog of 3D art show up lit in pixels on our screens, 3D printed in our homes and classrooms, or embedded in our architecture or clothing? Or in something new? Mass 3D scanning and publishing projects like this are the first steps towards finding out.

This Bloomberg View column and this interview cover some of my bigger picture ideas on scanning and printing, as does my June, 2012 video and accompanying essay, Through A Scanner, Getty:

"Propaganda of the deed." -- Bruce Sterling, science fiction author and futurist

"That is badass." -- Gavin McInnes, founder, VICE

"What art love looks like. In 3D." -- J. Paul Getty Museum

By making this a popularly funded project, I hope to demonstrate public interest in museums and private art and antiquities collectors bringing their artwork alive by scanning and setting it loose into the popular culture. I believe that the first people, companies, and institutions to embrace opportunities like this and help shape an ethic of freely publishing 3D models of important works will be among the most influential art patrons of the next several hundred years. That can be you, me, and everyone we bring on board.


— Cosmo Wenman
June 2013


For more information on this project and how to support it, please visit

Click here for a press release about this proejct.