Sketchfab Launches Public Domain Program so Museums Can Share Cultural Relics in 3D – Road to VR

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    Sketchfab is a great resource for developers looking for a place to share and download 3D models—all of which can be viewed in VR headsets. Now, the company has launched a new program that makes it easier for museums and like-minded organizations to display and freely share 3D scans of their objects of cultural heritage.

    According to a Sketchfab blog post, cultural organizations can now dedicate their 3D scans and models to the Public Domain using the Creative Commons (CC) 0 Public Domain Dedication, which essentially certifies that the institution is gifting the work to the public domain by waiving all rights to the work worldwide under copyright law. This essentially lets anyone copy, modify, and distribute the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.

    To accomplish this, Sketchfab has partnered with 27 such organizations from 13 different countries, including the Smithsonian, the National Gallery of Denmark, Chile’s Museo Nacional de Historia Natural, and the Cleveland Museum of Art to name a few.

    Check out some of the digital objects below, many of which appear to be created using photogrammetry, a technique of stitching together photos into a 3D model:

    If you have a PC VR headset, Oculus Quest or Oculus Go, you can take a gander in VR too.

    Note: For PC VR headset users, you may want to use a dedicated VR web browser such as Supermedium on Steam or the native browser on the Oculus Store.

    For users on Oculus Quest or Go, simply use the native Oculus browser. Navigate back to this page, load the asset and click the ‘View in VR’ button to get a more immersive view.

    Alongside the new program, Sketchfab is also pushing an update to make it “even easier for 3D creators to download and reuse, re-imagine, and remix incredible ancient and modern artifacts, objects, and scenes,” says Thomas Flynn, Community & Cultural Heritage Lead at Sketchfab.

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    “This announcement is only just the start of Sketchfab’s support for CC0—we expect and invite more institutions to add 3D models to the public domain via the CC0 dedication in the future. If you work at a museum, gallery, or archive and want help dedicating your organisation’s 3D models to the Public Domain, please get in touch,” Flynn says.

    The company is also highlighting how developers can incorporate this classic and ancient 3D data with some really interesting remixes.

    Here’s the full list of participating cultural organizations. At the time of this writing there are currently over 1,700 3D scans, all of which you can view here.

    • AD&D 4D, ES
    • Arms Museum, RU
    • Cleveland Museum of Art, US
    • Digital Archive of Natural History (DiNArDa), DE
    • Digital Atlas of Ancient Life at the Paleontological Research Institution, US
    • Digital Heritage Age, Digital Counties Project, EI
    • Faroe Islands National Museum, DK
    • Ingenium, CA
    • Jena – Lichtstadt, DE
    • Minneapolis Institute of Art, US
    • Morbase Museu Virtual, PT
    • Musée Saint-Raymond, FR
    • Museus de Sitges, ES
    • Museo Nacional de Historia Natural de Chile, CL
    • Niederösterreich 3D, AT
    • RLA Archaeology, US
    • Science Museum Group, UK
    • Scottish Maritime Museum, UK
    • The Smithsonian Institution, US
    • SMK – National Gallery of Denmark, DK
    • State Darwin Museum, RU
    • Sterlitamak BashSU Archaeological Museum, RU
    • The Cable Center, US
    • University of Dundee Museum Collections, UK
    • Världskulturmuseerna, SE
    • Virtual Curation Lab, US
    • Western Science Center, US
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