This article investigates the use of 3D immersive virtual environments and 3D prints for interaction with past material culture over traditional observation without manipulation. Our work is motivated by studies in heritage, museum, and cognitive sciences indicating the importance of object manipulation for understanding present and ancient artifacts. While virtual immersive environments and 3D prints have started to be incorporated in heritage research and museum displays as a way to provide improved manipulation experiences, little is known about how these new technologies affect the perception of our past. This article provides first results obtained with three experiments designed to investigate the benefits and tradeoffs in using these technologies. Our results indicate that traditional museum displays limit the experience with past material culture, and reveal how our sample of participants favor tactile and immersive 3D virtual experiences with artifacts over visual non-manipulative experiences with authentic objects.