3D Printing Teams with Raspberry Pi in a Smart and Unusual Way


Can’t make it to the new museum opening, and worried you’ll never see the main attraction in person? Don’t worry - 3D printing plus Raspberry Pi can bring it to you. Museum in a Box is a smart use of 3D printing concepts and Raspberry Pi programming that shares knowledge with people anywhere in the world.

Museum in a Box: Bringing Collections to You

Museum in a Box began in 2015 and has created over eight million miniature 3D prints. The concept is unusual but effective. 3D printed miniatures of museum exhibits, combined with an audio box powered by Raspberry Pi. The box detects when a 3D object rests on top and begins playing the associated audio file. An interactive museum experience that’s also portable allows wide sharing of limited exhibits. Rather than original displays sitting on a shelf, these boxes bring history into the digital age. Expert knowledge combined with a physical object you can feel brings the museum experience into the real world.

Touching More Than Screens

Museum in a Box caters to a younger audience with its inclusion of technology in the accurate presentation of each miniature. Its origins are not a surprise since its founder is George Oates, an original designer at Flickr. Younger generations are visual and live their lives inundated with tech, and this project serves to meet them in a familiar place.
Digitizing curated items isn’t a huge leap since photographs and 3D representations aren’t new. But using 3D print technology to shrink artifacts from the Smithsonian or UK National History Museum? Then the question became how to illustrate each item without a docent packed into each box. Raspberry Pi answered that challenge.

Real World Applications

Raspberry Pi is a tiny computer well-suited to the task of explaining tiny museum artifacts. The Raspberry Pi Foundation explains its desire to bring digital making to people across the world. Its humanitarian goals echo Museum in a Box’s educational and cultural premise. The computers are inexpensive and learning to program them requires little training.

A blog post from a mom attended one of Museum in a Box’s workshops captured the essence of the project. Her young son enjoyed the experience so much that he requested to attend a second workshop. This unusual tech trick is doing its best to bring history alive, one box at a time.

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