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Using Robots for Community Work at the Museum
Research partners from the international project „Presença Karajá“ with partners in Brazil, Belgium, Portugal, and Canada visited our Leipzig exhibition last week using ELIPS (our new fleet of telepresence robots). They took a closer look at the “Room of Remembrance” and at a display of ritxoko dolls from the Iny Karajá in Brazil. Ritxoko are dolls traditionally made of unburnt clay and wax, representing social and gender roles in Iny Karajá communities for children. After World War II, ritxoko were increasingly made of burnt clay, became larger, and are produced also for the tourist market, thus providing a source of income. Their female producers, the ceramistas, are revered in their communities. Ritxoko have recently been listed as part of national cultural heritage in Brazil. The Project Presença Karajá“ seeks to identify ritxoko in museum collections worldwide and to build an online database that is supposed to reconnect Iny Karajá with historical dolls, patterns and production methods, and to serve researchers worldwide.
We have have video conferences with the project group regularly since 2019 in order to study the historic collection of some 80 ritxoko dolls at Leipzig.
During the project meeting in May, a member of the research group remotely steered ELIPS from Canada, while researchers and Karajá representatives in Brazil “moved along”. Our highlight of the tour was when several kids gathered around the laptop of a Karajá representative on the river island Banananal to see a doll which had been collected there in 1908.
It is exactly that kind of interactive exchange that we are looking to enable with ELIPS. Taking it to the test proved how well these telepresence robots serve as tools for collaborating worldwide.