Photo by Dr. Daniel Ksepka/March Of The Fossil Penguins

Museum toasts Penguin Awareness Day with 3D-printed models

The Bruce Museum making display items more accessible.

Mar 1, 2020, 12:07 pm*



Selena Larson

Penguins around the world are enjoying the spotlight. Jan. 20 is internationally recognized as Penguin Awareness Day, and to commemorate the occasion one museum is hosting a 3D printing demonstration—replicating one of its “stuffed skin” penguin specimens.

Dr. Daniel Ksepka, Curator of Science at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Conn., is presenting a scientific discussion about the evolutionary history of penguins; it’s one that spans 60 million years.

MakerBot is joining the event, printing a small replica of the black-footed penguin just like the one the museum has stuffed on-site.

The museum partnered with MakerBot to print mini replicas of the penguin to test out the technology, and eventually created a full-size version. To create the larger 3D-printed specimen, the museum laser-scanned the bird and uploaded the file to a computer where it was converted and became readable via 3D printer.

The color and shape of the penguin is almost identical to the actual species, and it shows museum-goers the animal’s details in a version of the penguin that’s much less delicate than the real bird.

3D-printing technologies are making museum items on display—like animal specimens, fossils, and artifacts—more accessible to the masses. The Smithsonian’s X 3D Explorer lets people print objects found in the Smithsonian archive. As these technologies become more accessible, it’s likely we’ll see more 3D-printed presentations like the one at Bruce Museum.

In other parts of the world, support for penguins is in full swing this January. Scientists in the Falkland Islands are celebrating Penguin Awareness Day by discussing the potential for new research in the archipelago. And in Manly, Australia, the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary is hosting an event to educate the community on cutting back pollution in order to save penguin populations.  

In case you feel like joining in the celebration for our feathered friends, here are some penguin GIFs.





Photo via Dr. Daniel Ksepka/March Of The Fossil Penguins

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*First Published: Jan 20, 2015, 9:53 pm