Curious if the Smithsonian had any notable unpublished 3D scans, and how the museum is prioritizing its digitization efforts, in 2014 I sent the Smithsonian’s Office of General Counsel a records request.

I was hoping for Rodins, Degas, Bugattis, and more. Here’s what I found:

Since then, the Smithsonian has produced a very unusual 3D scan of an extremely high-profile subject that would be of great interest to the public. But they haven’t made the scan accessible to the public. I’ve been trying to access it, but the museum’s legal department has completely refused.

Instead of granting access to this purportedly-sensitive scan, the Smithsonian’s senior lawyers offered only dilatory responses and arbitrary interpretations of loopholes in the Smithsonian’s open access policies. Their explanations to me include comments such as “we’ve answered your questions, what’s not clear?” and that there are “any number of other reasons” they would keep the scan from the public.

I’m still pursuing this, and hope to share more about it here soon.