By nature, humans have a desire to touch the things they encounter in daily life. Museums are no exception to this desire, even though museum objects are rarely available for visitor handling. This thesis explores the question: “can accurate 3D printed facsimiles help fulfill the desire of visitors to touch museum objects?” For this project and case study, I selected, and 3D scanned a museum object, which was then recreated via 3D printing. The reproduction was then put on display alongside the original object, and a visitor study was conducted to see if interacting with the facsimile while seeing the original object satisfied the desire of the visitor to touch the object. From this study, I determined that the facsimile proved to be a satisfactory replacement for the original object in terms of touch – in this limited context. This research may be of use to museums and staff looking to meet visitor needs without compromising the institutional commitment to preservation, care, and stewardship of collections.

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Museum Studies (BS)


Juilee Decker

Advisor/Committee Member

Jade Myers

Advisor/Committee Member

Tina Lent


RIT – Main Campus