Documenting COVID-19: Royal Alberta Museum collects items for pandemic collection

A hockey stick, homemade fabric bags and hand sanitizer will soon be part of a COVID-19 collection being curated by staff at the Royal Alberta Museum.

'We realized we’re living in historic times and it’s our job to document that'

RAM on the look out for COVID-19 artifacts

CBC News Edmonton

1 year ago
The Royal Alberta Museum is already working on plans to source material that is representative of the COVID-19 pandemic and it's effect on the province. 1:16

A hockey stick, homemade fabric bags and hand sanitizer will soon be part of a COVID-19 collection being curated by staff at the Royal Alberta Museum. 

"We realized we're living in historic times and it's our job to document that," said Julia Petrov, curator of daily life and leisure at the RAM and in charge of the pandemic collection.

"We don't want to end up in a situation in 100 years from now when people ask us 'Well, do you have anything from the pandemic?' and our future curators say 'No, we didn't collect anything.'"

Petrov and others at the museum have started to collect hand sanitizer made by Alberta breweries, homemade fabric bags and supplies from mask-making kits. 

Museum staff has also asked for CBC's Radio Active co-host Rod Kurtz's hockey stick, which has been used as a microphone boom during the pandemic, to also be part of the collection.

"We're trying to get a good sampling of people's responses to the pandemic," Petrov told CBC's Radio Active on Wednesday. 

Some items are missing from the wish-list. Petrov says they're working on getting beaded masks decorated by members of Indigenous communities. 

Staff is also hoping to score some scrubs used by health-care workers, but only after the pandemic has ended and the scrubs aren't as needed, she said.

The RAM isn't the only museum in the province wanting to document these unprecedented times. 

The Canmore Museum and Geoscience Centre is working on a project documenting the pandemic "in real-time," according to their website. 

Staff at that museum are asking people to keep daily journals or to write letters to "their future selves or loved ones." 

The Canmore Museum and Geoscience Centre is currently closed to visitors but is working on a project to document the COVID-19 pandemic. (Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada)

Anything they collect will join their permanent collection in the archives "as a way for the community to remember this event that will change us all forever," the website says. 

Museums in the province were allowed to reopen during the first stage of the province's relaunch.

Petrov said though this is not the first pandemic, it's important to document how the world, specifically Alberta, dealt with COVID-19.

"It's a different kind of disease than we've seen so far and it's going to be important to show how it was different and what ways it affected people."


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