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Tech2go podcast: Museums want to save their plastic exhibits

The humanoid robot Saya is only eight years old and was actually part of the permanent robot exhibition at the German Museum in Munich. But now it can no longer be exhibited. Her skin has a green tinge, is sticky, and is torn in the neck. The plastic mix that the robot face is made of has suffered. Like Saya, there are many exhibits from our recent history in which plastics are processed. However, it is up to researchers to preserve them and restore them in the best possible way.

More from MIT Technology Review

More from MIT Technology Review

More from MIT Technology Review

More from MIT Technology Review

“Almost everything harms the plastic. Oxygen, heat, UV light – all factors that always play a role in our normal environment,” says Marisa Pamplona in one Report from the Deutsches Museum. She is the head of the object and restoration research department. The Deutsches Museum houses 38,000 objects made of at least plastic. So it is an enormous task to prevent these objects from decaying.

In our new podcast episode Tech2go, Pamplona explains the problem. It gives an insight into where the plastics are hiding and when the museum scene became aware of the decay of the exhibits. The expert also reports how she proceeds: The question of whether taking a sample does more damage to the object and how an analysis result ultimately helps her.

Above all, however, the question arises as to how the robot woman Saya is doing today. Was it still to be saved or is it now in the basement of the museum? You can hear this and more in the new podcast episode.

You can also find more about the problem of crumbling museum objects in the 6/2021 issue of Technology Review (now at the kiosk or order online here).


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