Washington - The Wright brothers' first airplane and the skeleton of a woolly mammoth are among an array of artefacts available to view in a new online 3D archive launched by the Smithsonian museum.
The Smithsonian hopes its 3D Collection and 3D explorer will allow the public to take a closer look at the items.
The collection features Smithsonian artefacts that can be viewed on screen or even recreated as three-dimensional objects using a 3D printer.
"The Smithsonian is a leader in using 3D 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 Digitisation Programme 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.
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 3D project was a "story-telling tool".
The programme "allows people to experience these objects in a completely new way that's not possible in the galleries".
The programme was launched with a $350 000 budget as well as free support from a range of companies specialising in 3D technology.