The emergence of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, has resulted in massive challenges to society as we know it, with world-wide fatalities, travel bans, lockdowns and social distancing just a few of the issues the world is facing. Few lives have been left unaffected.
In response to this global pandemic, the Museum of Liverpool is launching a new COVID-19 collecting strategy to document the impact of the crisis upon the Liverpool City Region and its diverse communities. To realise this ambitious project, the museum is asking residents to suggest what items and personal experiences should be collected to record the impacts of this unprecedented time.
Kate Johnson, Head of the Museum of Liverpool said: “We are living through a historically significant event. As a city history museum with people’s stories at its heart, it is our job to help record this in a way that represents the diverse experiences of our communities living through these difficult times.
“We have all been affected in our own way. Some stories will be unique, others, universal. We would like to reassure people that their stories and objects will be treated with the utmost sensitivity. ”
The project will have short and longer-term goals going forward into early 2021. The immediate focus will be on collecting relevant objects, the ‘physical’ things that represent the human experiences of being affected by the crisis. Some initial objects have already been collected, such as hand sanitiser made by BrewDog which was given out by the brewery to the community at the height of the shortages, and facemasks made by local independent makers who have diversified into making PPE.
In the longer term, and when the time is right, curators hope to capture the personal experiences of those affected via recorded interviews, including NHS and other key workers, those who have lost their jobs, disabled people, home schooled children, homeless people and volunteers. The project will also aim to record the experiences of members of the community who have been subject to xenophobia and communities who have been disproportionately affected by the virus, along with the impact upon the arts and culture sector.
How can the public help?
- In the first instance, the museum is asking people for their ideas through social media channels about what it should collect. These may be suggestions, or the offer of a donation to the collection. We ask that items are not sent directly to the museum.
- The museum is also asking people to draw ‘mind maps’ of their individual isolation experiences noting the places they go within their small local area, i.e. house, garden, park etc. They do not have to be artistic, just a simple reflection of how their world has ‘shrunk’ during the outbreak. They can also include favourite things, people, pets and feelings. Examples of these can be found on the museum social media channels and webpage.
- As the experiences across the city are so varied, 20 community champions will be identified to represent their area and residents’ specific experiences and challenges.
These objects and ‘mind maps’ will be shared with the public via social media before the creation of a physical and digital display once the museum’s doors open again.
The public can get in contact with the Museum of Liverpool via the following social media channels and email: