The 3D, VR and AR platform Sketchfab is celebrating eight years of creations so Museum Crush has selected 12 favourite free models made by public British museums and heritage organisations
El Tigre mask
Let’s begin with this jolly chap from the Horniman Museum. He hails from Guerro, Mexico, and is a mask used in the Tiger Dance, a dramatisation of a hunt for the tiger.
Granite Head of Amenemhat III
How about this big boy? This colossal granite head of Amenemhat III, who resides at the British Museum, dates to the 12th Dynasty BC and came from the Temple of Bastet, Bubastis, Egypt.
Street dentist’s cap
A bit weird this one, but the wonderful Cuming Museum has an eye for the unusual and this grisly bonnet, dating to the mid nineteenth century, once belonged to a street dentist or tooth puller. It is decorated with the fruits of his labour; approximately 88 decayed human teeth.
Shoe retrieved from the wreck of SS Gairsoppa
This shoe was retrieved from the wreck of the SS Gairsoppa, which was torpedoed by a German U-Boat off the coast of Ireland on February 16 1941. The wreck lies there to this day – resting a mile deeper than the Titanic. The shoe and other poignant objects were featured in an exhibition at the Postal Museum in 2018 called Voices from the Deep.
Lewis chess pieces
The Lewis Chess Pieces are always worth a closer look (you will also find them on the British Museum’s Sketchfab page). Each one is a character in its own right, giving you pause to wonder about the Viking who once moved them strategically across a chessboard in the late 12th or early 13th century.
Inkwell from Bell Rock Lighthouse
It must have been a lonely and spartan existence on Bell Rock Lighthouse. Or was it? This decorative brass inkwell and pen rest featuring a bust of Neptune, Roman God of the sea, resided in the library which was located immediately below the station’s lightroom.
This skull of an ichthyosaur, a lower Jurassic predator who swam our oceans 201–199 million years ago, is one of our favourites from the Lapworth Museum of Geology. Maybe it’s the rock-filled eye sockets? Ichthyosaurs were thought to have been very active hunters with very good eyesight.
Model of a human brain
Here’s one to really get your head around; a sectioned brain courtesy of the Science Museum Group. It is actually made from from papier mâché with removable parts to show the internal structure of this most complex of human organs.
The Lamentation of Christ
This pre-Reformation piece of medieval art from Germany dates to around 1500 and was designed to help worshippers emotionally engage with the image of Christ’s dead body in front of them. Glasgow Museum invites you to do the same.
Like all of these objects Stephenson’s Rocket is wondrous thing to see in real life, but this model allows you to crawl underneath and examine every rivet and piston – as close as George Stephenson would have done before he climbed onto the footplate to win the Rainhill Trials in 1829.
Not many people have visited HMS Falmouth in its final resting place off the coast of Bridlington. Even if you have, it would be difficult to match the wreckage on the seabed with this detailed recreation of the First World War light cruiser that sank beneath the waves in August 1916.
Roman baby bottle
The volunteer-run Spelthorne Museum has modelled several archaeological treasures on Sketchfab, but this recently photographed Roman baby bottle – a recent acquisition which is still being researched – is one of their best yet.