Michael Baur

Arlen & Sara

Making Meaning matter

16 October 2014

3d Scanning and ‘The Evergreen Natural History Museum’


With the mission of the Evergreen Natural History Museum being “an accessible educational and research environment for students and faculty of the Evergreen State College while developing and preserving the collection of museum specimens for future generations,” (The Evergreen Natural History Museum) 3D scanning technology implementation only seems like the next logical step in both expanding at low cost while preserving forever fragile and irreplaceable specimens. Students at the Evergreen State College produced this last summer a report and exploration into D.I.Y. three dimensional Scanning implementations crafting several models from DSLR cameras to Microsoft’s Kinects. Already this fall: lines of communication have been established and test scans have taken place in museum with one of these same students using some of the specimens. A focus on creating a digital library of scanned specimens and having the 3d models open to the public under our institution as well as printing out reproductions using the Computer Application Lab’s Makerbots.

John Grieco writes about the global ‘take a penny, leave a penny’ mantra of the open source and maker communities at large, how,” This idea of taking and giving within the maker community is based on the development of software and physical designs in which the original creator has purposefully given up ownership.” (Grieco) In this case the remains that have been preserved have already given life to so much education, with several of the most valued items dating from the early 1970’s, yet no amount of attentive care can truly preserve any physical object against the rigors of time. To use the collective time to document and preserve the items today digitally will ensure lasting files that will not corrode away and will be able to be recreated both digitally and physically in the form of 3d prints.

3D modeling with Microsoft’s Kinect is used from everything today,”[its] perfect for hobbyists, makers, artists, and gamers …[it] shows you how to build … with inexpensive off-the-shelf components, including the open source Processing programming language and the Arduino microcontroller.” (Borenstein) This intersection of talents and interests will also have an insatiable quench for knowledge especially that of the natural world. The creation of a library will make access to the current specimens available to anyone who has an internet access forever without having to charge the institution anymore because of the relatively small size of the files in comparisons to the overheads associated with the current ‘physical library.  This will be done with considerably care and skill as both the process of scanning the the handling of specimens are delicate in their very nature.

Key considerations such as lighting, scale of model to distance from scanner, system requirements of computer hardware and software all must be taken into account. While “the movie industry may afford a 3D modeling pipeline system with special purpose hardware and highly specialized sensors that require manual calibration,” the quality of images produced does not need to be limited. (Srivastava)  Patience and proper setup and preparation for specific scans will ease problems further downstream and avoid having to rescan and reengage with fragile items. A working report must remain established between the museum and the scanner as often the process does not avail itself to the individual.

With these challenges in mind the hurdles to cross in order to create a digital library at low cost should be quite feasible for the remainder of the quarter. The chance to engage with rare and exotic specimens from the globe is an alluring draw to this project, but will also provide some of the greatest learning opportunities that are immaculate examples of interdisciplinary work. Both the arts and the sciences have combined into an opportunity to not only expose the world to a small but beautiful corner at the Evergreen State college but also the ability to preserve and even retire seasons specimens will avail new space for new specimens to be collected and processed . Our ability to add to the global take a penny tray with the creation of a digital library was crafted by the same making communities that taught so many already how to create these 3d printers and scanners.


Works Cited

The Evergreen Natural History Museum (The Evergreen Natural History Museum)


Grieco, John. Physical Computing: Programing, Electronics and The Maker Community. Olympia, 0. Print.

Borenstein, Greg. Making Things See 3D Vision with Kinect, Processing, Arduino, and MakerBot. Sebastopol: O’Reilly Media, 2012. Print.

Srivastava, Daoudi Anuj. 3D Face Modeling, Analysis and Recognition. Remco Veltkamp, 2013. Print.