Looking ahead to the historical significance of COVID-19 objects

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Ingenium – Canada's Museums of Science and Innovation
Plexiglass shield and barrier at White Cross Dispensary

It is strange living through something that you know is historically significant. As we navigate the unchartered waters of COVID-19, it’s challenging for curators — who usually collect and care for the past — to try to imagine, in real time, what will be important for us in the future.

A tiny, clear glass vial of polio vaccine sits on a white piece of fabric. The blue and red writing is faded; in blue writing, the largest text reads: “DT POLIO VACCINE.”

Vaccine, 2002.0073

Curatorial work often interprets the presence of the past. For example: How does this vial of polio vaccine make us think about public health and research today? Curatorial work under COVID-19 compresses our experience of objects in time. For example: How might the plastic shield at the pharmacy be experienced by those in the future, who are trying to understand how it felt to live during this global epidemic? How are you documenting your own experience of COVID-19? How do think this will be remembered? 

Ingenium’s curators will examine these questions and more as part of our “Curating Under Quarantine” initiative.

#CuratingUnderQuarantine

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Rebecca Dolgoy

Rebecca Dolgoy is the Curator of Natural Resources and Industrial Technologies at Ingenium