See historic ships, maritime artefacts and shipbuilding tools in incredible 3D and 360 degree views


12 March 2020
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3D models and 360° virtual tours of almost 50 of Scotland’s most important historic vessels have been made freely available to a worldwide audience as part of a global project.

The Scottish Maritime Museum has joined with 28 museums and cultural organisations across the world, including the famed Smithsonian Institution, to give the public free and uncopyrighted access to enjoy, download and re-imagine 3D scans of some of the world’s most incredible historic artefacts, fossils and works of art.

Through the open access initiative on the Sketchfab website, anyone can download, manipulate and use 1,700 3D scans commercially or non-commercially for free and without seeking permission or giving credit.

These include:

  • SY Carola, the oldest seagoing steam yacht in the world (from the Scottish Maritime Museum)
  • the Apollo 11 Columbia command module and Abraham Lincoln Life Mask (Smithsonian Institution)
  • a Tyrannosaurus Rex skull (Digital Atlas of Ancient Life)
  • a fourth century B.C. sculpture (Minneapolis Institute of Art).

Historic Scottish vessels in 3D

The Scottish Maritime Museum, which is based in Irvine, Ayrshire, has shared 3D models and 360° virtual tours of almost 50 of Scotland’s most important historic vessels, maritime artefacts and shipbuilding tools on Sketchfab, the world’s largest platform for shared 3D content.

he first 3D scans captured include:

  • MV Spartan, the only surviving Scottish-built ‘puffer’
  • the 1898 built SY Carola
  • the 1898 RNLB Jane Anne, a rare surviving example of a double-ended, self-righting lifeboat

The Scottish Maritime Museum’s scans also include a ‘Cat's Head’ carving from the Cutty Sark (pictured below); a steam hammer built by RG Ross & Sons for the 1907 opening of the Clyde Port Authority (Clyde Navigation Trust) repair workshops in Renfrew; and the stern of SS Rifle.

Marta Pilaska with the Cat's Head

The complementary 360° tours of MV Spartan and SY Carola allow virtual visitors to ‘step on deck’, enjoy high-resolution panoramas and imagine what it would have been like to sail aboard. 

The Scottish Maritime Museum is one of only two Sketchfab ‘launch collaborators’ in Scotland, alongside the University of Dundee Museum Collections, and three from the UK.

See the 3D models

The Scottish Maritime Museum’s 3D models and virtual tours can be found online here.

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The Scottish Maritime Museum’s Scanning the Horizon project has been made possible through funding from Museums and Galleries Scotland and in-kind support from Historic Environment Scotland (Spartan and Carola), Leica Geosystems (Jane Anne), RPS Europe (Stern of SS Rifle) and Ulmus Media (UAV photography).

Report and images courtesy Scottish Maritime Museum