Museum looking to document ongoing history of COVID-19 with time capsule

Adam Prudhomme

Lennox and Addington County Museum and Archives curator JoAnne Himmelman is once again calling on the public to contribute to the museum’s COVID-19 time capsule.

The project first began in the spring when the county launched a website, which called on residents to submit digital submissions surrounding family live, work life and acts of kindness among other topics that related to the pandemic. In this next stage, Himmelman is calling on physical objects to be donated to the capsule.

“We were looking for the digital content at that point to keep people interfacing with our website and telling their stories and posting their photos and making people feel like they can connect and that they’re not alone,” explained Himmelman. “Those stories are critical and they’re part of our capsule, but now I want the physical. We’re back in the building and I’m not looking for anything that’s over the top and huge because I just don’t know what I would do with it all. But we do need to capture the story of COVID in L&A County. I’m looking for people who have been ingenious and created a tool that would help them in their workplace or who have maybe interesting masks or maybe seen really good signs that are unique and maybe should be part of our collection. We’re also looking for archival materials, so journals, scrapbooks, photographs, those kind of things that could be added to the archival collection as well.”

Now about nine months into the pandemic, Himmelman says people may feel more comfortable contributing to the capsule than when it first started to be featured in the news.

“I feel fairly confident that things are kind of evening out for now and I have been thinking of my collection and COVID because when you’re kind of in the middle of it all you don’t want to think about it because it’s just always in your face,” said Himmelman. “Many of us are still working remotely and working overtime in our essential duties, my job is to collect and this is a critical story that’s going to have be told 50 years from now, 100 years now, whenever and now I need pieces for the collection to tell that story.”

She reached out to the local COVID-19 testing centre and will include an unused swab kit for future generations to get an idea of what it would have been like to get tested for COVID-19.

As important as the medical side of the pandemic will be in telling the story, so too will be the items added by the every day people who lived through it.

“I want something that’s going to tell a great story so that when the future curator wants to create an exhibit they’re going to thank me and say ‘thank God that curator had it in her to pull this together,’” Himmelman added.

Anyone interested in adding to the capsule can reach out through the museum’s website. There’s no real deadline to make a submission, as the capsule will be an ongoing project.

“As a community museum we need to commemorate our leadership and commemorate who was our prime minister and community leaders or our industrialists,” said Himmelman. “They are people who helped shape the county, but it is the every day person who enriches it. It’s our every day stories that enrich our lives and they have value and they should be part of our collection.”

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