3D printing helps American museum replicate the fragile maquette

Repository of archaeological treasures and incredible monuments are extremely delicate pieces of art and our history, they are priceless and irreplaceable hence when a museum decides to go a national tour showcasing exhibition of these art they have to be very careful. We have seen some very important pieces of the museum art being stolen, lost or destroyed while on transit, this is a hard fact that hit the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem when they decided to go on a National exhibition tour.

Benton maquette

Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, Massachusetts is one of the biggest Art Museums in America and when they decided to go on an“American Epics: Thomas Hart Benton and Hollywood” tour they got the bad news that the clay maquettes designed by Thomas Hart Benton could not be moved as they were too fragile. The Clay sculptures were an integral part of the exhibit and leaving them behind would have been disappointing hence they decided to do something that has never been done before. They 3D printed it!!

3d printed Benton maquette

Jim Olson the director of Integrated Media at PEM, James DeYoung, senior conservator at the Milwaukee Art Museum, and Andrew Camardella, an industrial designer from Chicago spoke about the possibilities of replicating the art piece using the 3D Printing technology and they all believed that it could be done.

Andrew Camardella, scanned the Clay Art with digital cameras and a technique called photo geometric 3d scanning. This means the art was photographed from multiple angles and perspectives and then images were combined to make a 3d model. The scanning took a marathon 35 hours to capture the art from every nook and corner.

Designing Benton maquette

Once the 3d scan was ready it was printed using SLS technology with sandstone material, sandstone was the choice for the material as it looked like clay which is what the original maquettes was made of. The maquetteswas purposely printed using white sandstone and not the color printing method as we have seen in the case of 3D Selfies. The team at Peabody Essex Museum said “The maquette is labeled as a reproduction and we purposefully printed it in monochrome rather than color. The piece is installed in a recreation of Benton’s workshop that includes paints, brushes and an inspiration board. Unlike the original object, visitors are encouraged to touch the maquette!”

3D Printed Benton maquette

This is yet another unconventional use of 3D printing technology which proves the applications of this tech are unlimited. So what are you going to use 3D printing for ?

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