Commons, the free media repository of Wikipedia, has
introduced a new tool allowing contributors to upload 3D models
to the site.
The 3D models, as with Wikipedia’s other media content i.e.
photos, audio, vector and video files, will be embedded into
the site’s existing articles, adding a new dimension to
research done by the millions of readers who use the site every
A big step forward for the 3D community, many of the models are
designed for 3D printing and academic reference.
3D Printing Industry spoke exclusively to Jonathan Beck,
Scan the World and one of the first 3D contributors to
Wikimedia Commons, to discover more.
Michelangelo is now viewable as a 3D model on Wikimedia. Scanned
and digitally recreated by Scan the World.
The first 3D model to be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons is
the Asad Al-Lat statue, a sculpture resurrected from the
ruins of Palmyra which was destroyed by ISIL in
Asad Al-Lat was chosen as the first 3D model by Wikimedia
Commons in memory of Bassel Khartabil, the Palestinian
Syrian open-source software developer, executed for
his activism by the Syrian government in 2015.
Bassel Khartabil’s legacy lives on in the #NEWPALMYRA project,
which he started to
digitally recreate the city using collected digital
Gilles Dubuc, one of the engineers behind the new 3D Wikimedia
comments, “Since I was familiar with 3D and had
worked on the Media Viewer extension, I felt like this was a
project where I could make a difference,”
“…The great importance of these free knowledge projects
inspired me to work on 3D integration for Wikimedia projects
to give a better platform for the hard work that people like
Bassel put into documenting history.”
The at-present modest collection of Wikimedia 3D models has
grown to include historic sculptures and landmark buildings
Venus di Milo, The
Thinker by Auguste Rodin and the
Parthenon in Athens.
Asad Al-Lat lion
statue was the first ever 3D model uploaded to Wikimedia Commons
in memory of Bassel Khartabil. 3D model by Georges Dahdouh/New
Art for everyone
World is the non-profit art and sculpture segment of 3D
file hosting website MyMiniFactory, accounting for
more than 10,000 of the site’s 40,000+ guaranteed 3D
printable files. Beck, the project’s founder and curator, has
been in conversation with Wikimedia Commons since the
development stages of the 3D model uploading tool.
“Wikipedia has always been a great influence on Scan the
World’s collaborative approach for the democratization of
culture and dissemination of knowledge,” said Beck, “as well as
encouraging us to push for disrupting institutions to open
their data to the public.”
For Beck, and the wider MyMiniFactory community, Wikimedia’s
new tool is a validation of all the hard work that has gone
into curating 3D content since Scan the World started in 2014.
“Our collaboration with Wikipedia reminds us that we’re
working in the right direction for the future of sharing and
“Hopefully it will provide more leverage to encourage other
institutions to follow the likes of The SMK, MET and Musée
Saint-Raymond in opening their data to the world,” he added.
The Statens Museum
for Kunst (SMK)or the National Gallery of Denmark along with the
MET museum in New York and the Musée Saint-Raymond in Toulouse,
have all made a digital collection of their artworks available to
access and download online for free. Pictured above is a painting
by Carl Rasmussen from 1872. Image via the SMK.
Wikimedia blog announcement of the new feature tips its hat
to 3D models made using photogrammetry, encouraging more mobile
users to get involved and upload their findings.
As a community-based initiative, photogrammetry is the
predominant technology behind Scan the World’s entire art
collection, accounting for around 85% of the overall content.
“The majority of the models on the platform originate from
photogrammetric data provided by our community of
contributors,” comments Beck.
“It’s great to see the democratized technology embraced by
Wikipedia to encourage people to scan more objects.”
The initial stage of
photogrammetry can be done with a smartphone camera. The
photos then need to be digitally stitched together, in a
program such as Autodesk ReMake, and finished to make a
Scan the World provides this useful guide on how to get
started with scanning.
Anyone who wishes to contribute to the Wikimedia Commons
archive of 3D models can do so simply by creating a free
Wikipedia account, and using the site’s in-built uploader.
The Wikimedia Commons feature currently accepts .stl files,
that can be downloaded and optimized for 3D printing.
You can find 3D printable Scan
the World contributions to Wikimedia Commons here.
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Featured image shows a 3D model of the Laocoön Group
sculpture at the Vatican Museums, Vatican City. Image via Scan
the World/Wikimedia Commons