Curating Under Quarantine Initiative

Curating Under Quarantine Initiative

A sign that reads "Museum Closed" blocks the driveway in front of a large, four storey grey, blue, and green building.

Project Description

Curating Under Quarantine (CuQ) is a curatorial initiative that seeks to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in ‘real time,’ while considering what moments will be significant for future Canadians. The initiative aims to:

  • decrease social isolation during the pandemic
  • document technological challenges
  • highlight Canadian innovation and adaptations prompted by the pandemic
  • preserve and share the experiences of the public and the museum community
  • develop and experiment with new methods and methodologies of curation

The CuQ team is sensitive to the serious — and often terrible — effects that the pandemic is having on people’s lives. We strive to be self-aware, empathetic, and mindful that other people’s experiences of COVID-19 may not be the same as ours. Contributors are conscious of the tone and the timing of projects. Shared authority is crucial to this initiative; Canadians must be able to share their experiences in their own voices, when and if they want.

The ongoing outcomes of this initiative can be found below.


Project Outcomes

Research Reports

An image of a filing cabinet is imposed on the front of a laptop screen.

Archive

The Vaccine Rollout Oral History Archive contains interviews with individuals associated with Canada's COVID-19 vaccination efforts, including scientists, manufacturers, political and medical authorities, as well as recipients. For more information, please contact: biblio-archives@ingeniumcanada.org.

Exhibitions

Blog Posts on the Ingenium Channel

Acquisitions

A tall, white-and-grey medical ventilator, with a black display screen, is on wheels.

CAE Air1 Ventilator

The CAE Air1 Ventilator is a modern mechanical ventilator built by the world-leading simulation and training company, CAE, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the anticipated shortage of life-saving ventilators in Canada. The ventilator was designed very quickly; it was the first such technology to receive certification from Health Canada during the pandemic. Five-hundred CAE employees from incredibly varied backgrounds volunteered to work on the project in various capacities, including in the factory assembling the units. This made-in-Canada ventilator is made up of over 500 parts, sourced from 130 Canadian suppliers. The aerospace industry has been so hard hit by the pandemic; this is one of the few positive stories and lifelines that aerospace companies have had over the past 14 months. As of early spring 2021, 8,200 ventilators have been manufactured to date.

A tiny, glass vial sits in the palm of a hand. The words “Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19” are visible.

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Vials

On December 14, 2020 and January 4, 2021, the University Health Network administered the contents of these vials to five employees of Toronto’s Rekai Centre; they were the first healthcare workers in Canada to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. While this certainly was a significant event in Canada’s response to the pandemic, the vials also connect to critical collaborative research efforts, accessible supply chains, and vast knowledge systems that informed their development, testing, and ultimate mass production. One such example is the Vancouver-based biotechnology company, Acuitas Therapeutics, which developed the nanotechnology — or delivery system based on lipid nanoparticles — that allows the messenger RNA in the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be safely delivered to its target.

A woman wearing personal protective equipment holds a white face mask at arm’s length; she is blurred in the background and the mask is in focus.

General Motors Canada’s 10 Millionth Mask

The first known case of COVID-19 in Canada dates to January 23, 2020. Within months, the country faced a critical mask shortage. In response to this urgent need, on April 24, 2020, the Federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry announced that the government had signed a letter of intent with General Motors Canada which would see the manufacturer produce 10 million medical-grade facemasks by the spring of 2021. Ingenium has acquired the 10 millionth mask, as an example of a crucial piece of personal protective equipment worn throughout the pandemic. The mask’s manufacturing provenance also connects to the effort of many industries, both in Canada and worldwide, to respond to COVID-19 by pivoting their production and work products in order to address new needs and shortages.

Video Profiles

Audio Visual

0:00

Quiet ambient music playing.

People, wearing masks, walk around a market area.

0:01

Voiceover of Curator Emily Gann: While many people are looking forward to forgetting and moving past the current pandemic, …

 

0:05

Gann: … curators and museums around the world are considering how this moment in time will be remembered.

Camera pans in on a sign reading ‘Museum Closed’ which stands in front of the Ingenium Centre.

Text on screen: Credit: Molly McCullough

0:11

Gann: How can we best document and preserve artifacts from an event we are living through?

Camera pans across the west side of the Ingenium Centre building.

0:15

Gann: When everything could be an artifact, how do we determine what will best represent this historical time in the future? Whose COVID stories are being preserved, and whose are at risk of being lost?

Curator Emily Gann – a white female in her mid 30s – walks through the Ingenium Centre and looks at artifacts in one of the storage rooms.

0:25

Gann: How can we capture evidence of a time that everyone is eager to move past?

Gann walking into the Conservation Laboratory in the Ingenium Centre.

0:30

Gann: Curating under Quarantine is a curatorial-led initiative developed by Ingenium. It’s our response to the pandemic and the desire to make sense of — and preserve — what’s happening around us, through the lens of science and technology.

 

Gann sits while speaking in the Ingenium Centre Library; bookshelves are visible in the background.

 

 

Text on screen: Emily Gann, Curator, Ingenium

0:42

Gann: I’d like to share a few stories about one of our most recent pandemic-related acquisitions:

A tight shot of the gloved hands of Conservator Erin Secord, carefully opening the vials’ packaging.

0:47

Gann: two empty vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Conservator places two vials, side-by-side, on table.

0:51

Gann: On December 14, 2020 and January 4, 2021, …

Camera pans across a close-up of one of the vials.

0:56

Gann: … the University Health Network administered the contents of these vials to five employees of Toronto’s Rekai Centre; …

A tight shot of the gloved hands of the Conservator, holding a vial in each hand, and turning them to reveal stickers reading “1” and “2” on the bottoms of the vials.

1:01

Gann: …they were the first healthcare workers in Canada to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Camera zooms out on a still image of Anita Quidangen receiving her first dose of the vaccine from Tamara Dus.

 

Text on screen:

Credit: University Health Network

Public Affairs and Communications

1:06

Gann: While this was a significant event in Canada’s response to the pandemic, the vials represent more than just this moment.

Gann sits while speaking in the Ingenium Centre Library; bookshelves are visible in the background.

 

1:13

Gann: Their material culture enables us to share stories of critical collaborative research efforts, supply chains, and vast knowledge systems that informed their development, …

A close-up of the gloved hands of the Conservator, inspecting a vial under laboratory light.

1:22

Gann: …testing, and ultimate mass production.

Camera pans across a close-up of vials displayed on a table in the Ingenium Centre’s Conservation Laboratory.

1:25

Gann: They also serve as tiny windows into the future of science, technology, and medicine.

Gann sits while speaking in the Ingenium Centre Library; bookshelves are visible in the background.

 

1:30

Gann: Researchers have been studying messenger RNA, or mRNA, since its discovery in the 1960s. A challenge with this technology is that mRNA can be quickly degraded before it can “deliver” its message — the RNA script — and be read into proteins in the cell. The solution to this problem came from advances in nanotechnology, specifically the lipid nanoparticles that wrap the mRNA like a bubble, protecting it, and allowing it to enter into the cells.

Animated video of how mRNA technology enters into the cell, courtesy of Acuitas Therapeutics.

 

Text on screen:

 

Credit: Acuitas Therapeutics

1:57

Gann: For the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, a Vancouver-based biotechnology company called Acuitas Therapeutics developed the lipid nanoparticles that allow this vaccine to work.

Camera pans through video of scientists working in the Acuitas laboratory in Vancouver.

 

Text on screen:

 

Credit: Acuitas Therapeutics.

2:08

Gann: When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Canada did not have a facility that could be quickly retooled to produce viral vector vaccines or mRNA vaccines. Canada’s limited domestic vaccine manufacturing capability meant that it had to completely depend on global supply chains and foreign sources for doses.

 

To shepherd vaccines into Canada, many networks of knowledge, systems of transport, and levels of government had to work together to facilitate their procurement and distribution.

Gann sits while speaking in the Ingenium Centre Library; bookshelves are visible in the background.

 

2:36

Gann: These vials were produced at a Corning facility in upstate New York. Corning is one of a handful of firms that makes glass vials for …

Camera zooms in on hundreds of empty vials, packed closely together on a conveyor belt.

 

Text on screen:

 

Credit: Christopher Payne.

2:45

Gann: … the pharmaceutical industry. Vials that store drugs or vaccines, such as these, …

Camera zooms in on vials on grey table in the Ingenium Centre’s Conservation Laboratory.

2:49

Gann: … must meet extremely high safety standards; they must be shatterproof and resistant to extreme temperatures.

These vials are made of Valor Glass …

A tight shot of the gloved hands of the Conservator inspecting one of the vials donated to Ingenium.

2:58

Gann: … which is a relatively new pharmaceutical product from Corning. In 2011, Corning began developing Valor Glass as part of their research into improving medical vials.

Camera pans across a vial on a grey table in the Ingenium Centre’s Conservation Laboratory.

3:07

Gann: They experimented with different additives and found that adding new ingredients to the silica and removing standard elements …

Camera zooms in on stations of industrial machinery used to make pharmaceutical glass in the Corning facility.

 

Text on screen:

 

Credit: Christopher Payne.

3:13

Gann: … made for stronger pharmaceutical glass.

 

From New York state, these vials were shipped to Pfizer-BioNTech’s production facility in Belgium. There, the vials were sent through an intricate and automated vaccine-filling machine where they were washed and sterilized, and filled with the Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine. The machine sealed them and prepared them for shipment.

Camera follows vials through the automated processing and preparation system at the Pfizer facility.

 

Text on screen:

Credit:  Pfizer Canada.

3:33

Gann: Alongside orders for other countries, the vials destined for Canada were carefully loaded onto a United Parcel Service airplane on December 12, 2020.

At the Pfizer facility, staff pack the vials into small boxes, place them in a cooler-box, and fill the box with dry ice. These boxes are carefully packed into large shipping boxes and prepared for travel.

 

Text on screen:

 

Credit:  Pfizer Canada

3:42

Gann: After stops in Germany and the United States, the shipment finally landed at the Hamilton International Airport the evening of December 13, 2020.

A still image of a night scene of a man in the foreground, looking on as cargo is unloaded from an aircraft.

 

Text on screen:

 

Credit: Government of Ontario

3:51

Gann: The University Health Network was selected by the province to oversee the vaccine program in Toronto.

Camera zooms in on a still photo, depicting six masked University Health Network employees standing in front of three banners.

3:57

Gann: Jin Huh, the network’s senior director of pharmacy, received the 585 vials …

Camera zooms in on a still photo of Jin Huh, who stands in front of two banners inside the gymnasium at the Michener Institute of Education.

4:03

Gann: … as part of this first delivery at 9:40 a.m. on Monday, December 14, 2020.

Gann sits while speaking in the Ingenium Centre Library; bookshelves are visible in the background.

 

4:09

Gann: In a carefully orchestrated workflow, he quickly moved the vials through the building, …

Camera zooms in on a still photo of roughly 100 individual vials, stored next to one another in tray. The vials appear quite cold.

 

Text on screen:

 

Credit: University Health Network

 

4:13

Gann: … bringing them to Kelly Lalog, a registered pharmacy technician, who placed them in the -70 C freezer.

Camera zooms in on a still photo of two industrial freezers; the freezer on the left has a digital screen that reads -74˚C and the door of the right-hand freezer is open, exposing four shelves with closed boxes of vials on them.

 

Text on screen:

 

Credit: University Health Network

4:20

Gann: Shortly thereafter, Booth Rumsey, the pharmacy operations technician supervisor at Princess Margaret Hospital, prepared the vaccines. She inspected the vials, flipped off the deep purple dust cover cap, inverted them, and inserted a sterile syringe which diluted the vaccine with 1.8 mL of sodium chloride solution. After a final inversion to keep the vaccine suspended, and inspection, she prepared five syringes, each with 0.3 mL of the vaccine.

 

Video footage of Booth Rumsey preparing the doses while seated at a desk. Wearing blue latex gloves, she prepares the vaccine in the vial and readies five syringes.

 

Text on screen:

 

Credit: University Health Network

4:49

Gann: A staff member then took the five prepared syringes to the vaccine clinic …

Camera zooms out on a still photo of three University Health Network staff members, as they walk together into the gymnasium at the Michener Institute of Education.

 

Text on screen:

 

Credit: University Health Network

4:54

Gann: … at the network’s Michener Institute of Education. At 12:01 p.m. Tamara Dus, a registered nurse, sat down to administer the vaccines to the first five long-term care workers to receive the jab in Canada. The University Health Network set aside a second vial, so that they could guarantee these frontline workers would receive their second dose in three weeks’ time. 

 

Video footage of Tamara Dus administering a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to Anita Quidangen. Colleagues applaud nearby.

 

 

Text on screen:

 

Credit: University Health Network

5:14

Gann: After the second Ontario-wide stay-at-home order was lifted,

Camera pans across two vials on a grey table in the Ingenium Centre’s Conservation Laboratory.

5:17

Gann: the network shipped these vials to Ingenium so we could preserve them as part of the national collection.

Since then, these vials have informed an oral history research project that explores the vaccine rollout in Canada.

A close-up shot of the Conservator inspecting the two vials in the Ingenium Centre’s Conservation Laboratory.

5:28

Gann: Jennifer Fawcett, a researcher for Ingenium, led this project over the summer of 2021.

Here is part of her interview with Dr. Pieter Cullis, …

Gann sits while speaking in the Ingenium Centre Library; bookshelves are visible in the background.

 

5:36

Gann: … Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Professor at UBC and co-founder of Acuitas Therapeutics. In this short clip, Dr. Cullis shares his thoughts on the future of mRNA technology.

Two screens, side-by-side, with Dr. Pieter Cullis on the left and Jennifer Fawcett on the right.

5:48

Dr. Pieter Cullis: “It’s going to revolutionize medicine, really. And you can see this happening already. Because you can make any protein you want, you can edit a protein, and you can silence a protein. Now, so that really covers most human diseases if you can do any one of those three. So it’s a, there’s a bit of a gold rush going on in the field at the moment where, because so many previously untreatable diseases ….we have a new way to attack them.”

Dr. Pieter Cullis speaking in his home office, with a large bookcase in the background.

6:12

Gann: While contemporary collecting is not new for museums, the scope and scale of the COVID-19 pandemic pose unique challenges for curators. Over the coming years, we will endeavor to document the pandemic, remaining mindful of its potential legacies, discrepancies, and unanticipated impacts on society and technology.

Gann sits while speaking in the Ingenium Centre Library; bookshelves are visible in the background.

 

6:30

Quiet ambient music playing.

Black screen with white text that reads: Thank You

Acuitas Therapeutics

Christopher Payne

Jennifer Fawcett

Megan Ogilvie

Pfizer Canada

Dr. Pieter Cullis

University Health Network

 

Emily Gann

Michael D’Eon

6:33

The Ingenium logo appears, animated against a white background.

6:42

Ambient music fades into silence.

The Ingenium logo fades away, and is replaced by a Canada logo.

6:43

The Canada logo disappears and is replaced with Ingenium’s web URL:

IngeniumCanada.org.

Collaborations


Project Lead

Emily Gann, PhD Candidate, Curator, Natural Resources and Industrial Technologies

Emily Gann, PhD Candidate

Curator, Natural Resources and Industrial Technologies
egann@ingeniumcanada.org