Three D Scans: Pushing the Limits to Provide Accessibility to Art & Free 3D Downloads of Museum Pieces

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Oliver Laric

The work of Oliver Laric and 3D printing were two mediums just meant to meet. Both transformative in nature as well as offering a focus on respective self-sustainability and choice, the art and technology have merged and are partially responsible for another revolution: greater accessibility. Whether it’s better access to art or technology, or both, certainly minds around the world are much better for it, as we are sure many of the greats represented in Laric’s projects with musuems would agree, from Beethoven to Tennyson—and far beyond.

We’ve been following Laric for some time now, as he began his initial journey in the UK in 2012 (winning the prestigious Contemporary Art Society Annual Award) and then progressed to a full-scale project with the The Collection.

“I started working with a museum in Lincoln in the UK called The Collection in 2012, to digitize part of their collection,” Laric told recently. “This was funded by an award by the Contemporary Art Society in London that allowed us to buy a good 3D scanner and post produce models.”



That project resulted in lincoln3dscans, which gave access to many museum 3D models, with free downloads of items like a replica of the statue of ‘Venus Chiding Cupid,’ or ‘Nigerian Figurine.’ We caught up with him previously as he was working with the Usher Gallery, where the Lincoln 3D Scans were being exhibited and offering up not just interesting opportunities for free downloads and 3D prints from your desktop, but also continuing with the question of the public domain and ownership of art and images. His work was also offered a permanent spot there.

Since, Laric has worked with other museums and there too they have offered exhibits. Laric told that the project has not been without challenge in terms of replicating originals for the public:

“Of course this has always been a negotiation, in getting a museum to agree to let data circulate online without any financial compensation and without holding on to any copyright of the scan. The objects are all in the public domain, but there is still effort in making these scans, but I’m not claiming any copyright on them. They are free to circulate.”

Laric is hardworking, entertaining, and often full of humor in his projects, with an emphasis on pointing out to others who may not be considering it that we can make new things as well as questioning originals, copies, who they really belong to—and putting the question of copyrighting front and center. He states that it’s been exciting to see how the projects and 3D model downloads have developed—and been extremely popular—with some of the first scans being downloaded over 100,000 times.


Right Foot of the Dancer Fanny Elssler

And following the natural progression of his work, now anyone can go to his new site, threedscans, and download high resolution 3D scans, free and without copyright restrictions. From the ‘Right Foot of the Dancer Fanny Elssler’ to ‘Sphinx,’ there’s a lot of entertainment to be found just looking, even if you aren’t 3D printing. The site is very simple, but offers plenty to download with no worries of infringement. One of the most particularly popular downloads has been that of a neo-classicist sculpture, ‘Hunter and Dog,’ and Laric told us that it was actually used for the backdrop of the Eurovision 2015 finale.

Currently, a number of 3D objects being scanned at threedscans are items like life-masks or sculptures which can be cast directly from the original piece for modeling. Examples of this would be available downloads like ‘Lifemask of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.’

Those checking out the new site for downloading 3D model files may especially enjoy the photosculptures too, a form created by French photographer François Willème. Although he invented this in 1860, Laric pointed out to us how much his work and technology actually remind one of 3D technology. The process was too indeed very similar to numerous methods of 3D scanning today as he would have the subject sit or stand in a space with many cameras surrounding them with each taking photos simultaneously. The silhouettes were then sliced together, pasted on wooden boards, and made into inexpensive sculptures.

“Its oddly close to the current shops in cities in which you can get yourself scanned and printed in various sizes,” Laric explained to

Check out the Willème self portrait here.

Laric definitely emphasizes sharing, which is certainly a common theme today in our online, social media dominated world. His work resonates with many, from innovators and techies to artists and students—some of whom are all rolled into one—and some who are just plain curious about checking out free downloads.

The hope in offering downloads like these and ongoing access to so many works of art is that people around the world will also be inspired to create and innovate on their own, while enjoying these pieces, from different time periods, too. It’s certainly a big change from downloading yet another pink smartphone case or logoed keychain—and in printing one of these and giving it as a gift, you should get a much bigger reaction—as well as spreading a bit of artistic culture. Free art. Free access. That’s worth giving some time to. Enjoy!

Have you checked out the downloads? Let us know which is your favorite in the Free 3D Laric Museum Downloads over at


Lifemask of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe




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