Recreating the Past with Archeological 3D Printing

3D Printing & Imaging Digital Fabrication Education
Recreating the Past with Archeological 3D Printing
Photo courtesy of Jeff Aronowitz

A partnership between Virginia Commonwealth University and Jamestown Rediscovery allows visitors to experience the past in a new and exciting way. Dr. Bernard Means, Director of the Virtual Curation Lab, has worked with Jamestown along with other institutions to 3D scan, print, and paint artifacts from all over the world. He and his students have worked with over 1,600 artifacts, many coming from the active archaeological excavations at Jamestown.

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Using a Next Engine scanner and a variety of 3D printers, Dr. Means and his team have recreated hundreds of artifacts for various institutions and outreach events. To bring this effort to a wider audience, Dr. Means partnered with myself, Jeff Aronowitz, Assistant Manager of Education at Jamestown, to incorporate these printed objects into educational programming at Jamestown. A selection of artifacts has been reproduced for use in public tours, school tours, and a new interactive space called the “Ed Shed.”

The Ed Shed features an active 3D printer that prints artifacts right before visitor’s eyes in addition to a table full of other artifacts that have been reproduced. It also features a 3D scanner and a demo that shows the process of 3D scanning and how it can be used to digitize artifacts. Since opening in June, the Ed Shed has seen over 10,000 visitors and inspired new Makers young and old. Together, Dr. Means and myself hope to inspire other institutions to adopt similar programming efforts.

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Jeff Aronowitz

Jeff Aronowitz has worked over a decade in museum education, specifically focusing on integrating emerging technology into educational programming and public outreach.

View more articles by Jeff Aronowitz
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