R2-D2 lands at V&A Dundee for celebration of robots

Jessie Giovane Staniland of V&A Dundee strikes a pose similar to Princess Leia in Star Wars as she takes a close look at the R2-D2 prop which will feature in its forthcoming robots exhibition.
Jessie Giovane Staniland of V&A Dundee strikes a pose similar to Princess Leia in Star Wars as she takes a close look at the R2-D2 prop which will feature in its forthcoming robots exhibition.
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Star Wars icon R2-D2 has arrived in Dundee ahead of the opening a major new exhibition on robots at the city's V&A museum.

The original prop used by George Lucas for the first instalment of the space saga in 1977 will be going on public display next month.

The character, who was initially played by the actor Kenny Baker, went on to feature in all nine films in the series, including The Rise of Skywalker, the final chapter, which will be released in December.

R2-D2 is expected to be one of the major highlights of the exhibition - Hello, Robot - which will feature displays of toys from the past six decades, as well as other examples of how they have featured in popular culture.

Other big draws are expected to included an original 1926 poster for the celebrated silent film Metropolis, a 1957 robot created by the Japanese manufacturer Yonezawa, and a music video featuring robots kissing and embracing which was created for the Icelandic singer-songwriter Bjork.

Modern-day exhibits include a "spider dress" created by Dutch fashion designer Anouk Wipprecht which moves, breathes and reacts to the environment, a desktop robot which can sense stress levels and can pat a hand with its moving arm and 3D printed platform shoes.

Jessie Giovane Staniland of V&A Dundee and Patrick Luetzelschwab of the Vitra Design Museum in Germany inspect R2-D2 on its arrival in Dundee.

Jessie Giovane Staniland of V&A Dundee and Patrick Luetzelschwab of the Vitra Design Museum in Germany inspect R2-D2 on its arrival in Dundee.

The exhibition, which runs from 2 November until 9 February, is the first international collaboration by V&A Dundee on an exhibition. It will be unveiling an updated version of the exhibition which was originally created by the Vitra Design Museum in in Ghent, in Germany, the Mak Museum in Vienna, in Austria, and the Design Museum in Gent, in Belgium.

Read more: V&A Dundee to stage celebrations of videogames and robotics in 2019

Hello, Robot will explore the evolving relationship between humans and machines, the latest technological developments and how robots are making their way into modern-day homes.

It will explore the debate over the extent that robotics are threatening the jobs of the future, how humans are increasingly coming face to face with robots, and whether they will ever replace people in social contexts.

Objects going on display include an industrial robot adapted to feed babies, hi-tech fashion that can sense danger, drones which have been redesigned to look less threatening and a therapeutic robot modelled on baby seal.

Kirsty Hassard, curator at V&A Dundee, said: “Robots are part of our everyday and not a moment goes by without new developments in robotic technology.

“How and where we encounter robots, the sort of relationships we form with them, and how we interact with them – or they with us – is no longer the exclusive domain of engineers and IT experts. Designers are now often at the centre of these decisions.

“This is an exciting time, and the right moment to be asking big questions about the role robots should and will play in all our lives.”

Sophie McKinlay, director of programmes at V&A Dundee, said: "The evolution of robotics is one of the most intriguing and important design stories of our time and we are only just at the beginning. Hello, Robot examines our past, current and future relationships with robots and initiates vital conversations about where we are going next."

Read more: Club culture exhibition to be staged at V&A Dundee