WASHINGTON (AFP).- The Wright brothers' first airplane and the skeleton of a woolly mammoth are among an array of artifacts available to view in a new online 3-D archive launched Wednesday by the prestigious Smithsonian museum.
The Smithsonian, the world's largest museum and research complex, hopes its 3-D Collection and 3-D explorer will allow the public to take a closer look at the items.
The collection features Smithsonian artifacts that can be viewed on screen or even recreated as three-dimensional objects using a 3-D printer.
"The Smithsonian is a leader in using 3-D technology to make museum collections and scientific specimens more widely available for anyone to use and study," said Gunter Waibel, the director of the Smithsonian's Digitization Program Office.
Among the objects available in the collection are the Wright Brothers "Wright Flyer" plane, used in the first flight in 1903, a remnant of a supernova and a fossil whale.
The objects can be seen via the website address http://3d.si.edu.
Via a computer a browser can turn the objects around to view them from a variety of angles, zooming in on fine detail or even downloading data.
Waibel said the 3-D project was a "story-telling tool."
The program "allows people to experience these objects in a completely new way that's not possible in the galleries."
The program was launched with a $350,000 budget as well as free support from a range of companies specializing in 3-D technology.
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