Scan the World – A 3D-Printable Digital Cultural Heritage Collection

Scan the World is the easiest way to bring cultural heritage to life! You can get a mini version of all the landmarks and statues you love, be it the Egyptian Sphynx or Michelangelo's David. Today’s blogpost will introduce you to the Scan the World project and we will cover the basics and much more!


Scan the World is an innovative cultural initiative that began in 2014 and aims to make cultural heritage from all over the world accessible to all. It is a part of MyMiniFactory, and all objects can be found on the platform. Scan the World is entirely community-built, so every museum, no matter where in the world, can take part and share the amazing sculptures and artifacts within their collection. The best part is that all the objects in Scan the World are 3D-printable! The even better best part is they can all be downloaded for free!

Have you always wanted a small Statue of Liberty on your shelf? Or is it the Parthenon you are after? Maybe a famous sculpture just for you to enjoy? All of these are available through Scan the World and can be found on MyMiniFactory! It is a massive collection with nearly 17,000 different objects from over 800 places, so chances are whatever you want has already been scanned and is available!

If you find something that you like, but you don’t have your own 3D printer, that’s okay! We have a custom 3D printing service and can print anything out for you! Find out more about our custom 3D printing service here.



Image: Scan the World


Scan the World brings together 3D printable representations of cultural artifacts and enables everyone with access to the internet to experience and enjoy cultural heritage in a tangible way. In their own words, “The collaborative, living network removes the barriers of geographic location and socioeconomic backgrounds by empowering you to engage, behold, scan or own a copy of 3D-printable artifacts that hold significance for you”. In its essence, Scan the World is a shared, open access museum of the future, that is built by the users for the users.


Scan the World uses democratised 3D scanning technologies to produce 3D-printable models. The main method of scanning the artefacts it through photogrammetry. Photogrammetry requires photographs from different vantage points, and it works through combining the information captured in multiple photographs to render a digital three-dimensional image of the object pictured. Once this process is finished, the digital files are uploaded to MyMiniFactory, where everyone is able to download them for free and 3D print them!

If you would like to make your own addition to Scan the World, you’ll need a camera – it can be your smartphone, or a DSLR. There are a few things you need to consider if you are hoping to contribute to this project. Firstly, keep in mind that the best objects to scan in this way have to be solid, matte and in brighter colours, because glossy, transparent, and dark objects are difficult to scan without extra preparation. You will have to photograph your object from every possible angle, specialists from Scan the World recommend that around or over 50 photos should be enough to render a detailed digital model, especially if you add close-up pictures of specific details. Then, you need to make sure the photos you are sending over are in focus and with good lighting and exposure, as those can create problems in the final render. You can send your photos over to Scan the World, and they can run them through a photogrammetry software for you, or you can try doing it yourself – there are many photogrammetry programmes available both paid and for free. You can read more about the process here.








Video: YouTube, Scan the World


Now you know what Scan the World is, you may be wondering “What have they already scanned and uploaded?”. The answer is – quite a lot! Their collection keeps growing both through their own scanning efforts as well as through the submissions of museum curators and ordinary people. In this section, we have highlighted some of our favourite 3D-printable models you can find on Scan the World.

1. The Four Parts of the World Holding the Celestial Sphere


This sculpture was created in c.1867 by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux on commission for a fountain for the Luxembourg Gardens. It currently resides in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. The four female figures represent Europe, Africa, Asia and America. It is a meaningful sculpture, and through Scan the World, you can 3D print a copy for yourself!

Image: Google Arts & Culture

Image: Scan the World

2. Still Water

This is an outdoor bronze sculpture of a horse’s head drinking water by Nic Fiddian-Green, and it is located in Marble Arch, London. The 3D render of this art piece is impressive, and can be 3D printed easily, as it does not need supports!

Image: Pinterest

Image: Scan the World

3. Big Ben

Big Ben doesn’t really need an introduction, however, if this is your first encounter with the UK’s most famous clock tower, here is what you need to know – it’s tall, old, and it was actually renamed to Elizabeth Tower in 2012! The 3D-printable model that Scan the World have created is incredibly detailed and accurate. Why buy a souvenir when you can print it yourself?

Image: Britannica

Image: Scan the World

We hope our brief introduction to Scan the World has been useful to you! Whether you’ll be adding to their collection, or just printing out great pieces of art and landmarks for yourself, we think Scan the World has something for everyone. They have a great community of specialists, museum professionals, and ordinary people like you and me, who join together to make art accessible, and are interested in the museums of the future.