Royal BC Museum COVID collection documents historic pandemic

Royal BC Museum COVID collection documents historic pandemic
WatchThere has been a huge response to the Royal BC Museum's COVID collection call to document this historic time. Tess van Straaten reports.

Colin Smith loves to take pictures and he brings his camera everywhere he goes, even during COVID pandemic.

“I’ve been doing photography for probably the past 10 years,” says Smith. “I love the storytelling of taking photos.”

So when the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, Smith decided to document it in Greater Victoria.

“As soon as I saw that first playground that was all wrapped in caution tape, I had a feeling it was going to get weird,” he says.

From closed playgrounds that look like crime scenes to empty highways and deserted city streets and sidewalks, Smith captured the surreal experience in photos.

“I feel like documenting this to look back on in a year even, is going to be like, ‘wow, did that really even happen?'” Smith says.

His photos will now form part of the Royal BC Museum’s COVID collection after the museum put out a public call for images, objects and memorabilia to help document this historic time.

“We had very few objects and archives in our collection from the Spanish Flu in 1918 and it really made it think our collections do need to reflect collecting for our time,” explains RBCM deputy CEO Joanne Orr.

From children’s drawings to journals and even face masks, the museum’s had close to 200 responses so far.

“Some of the symbols of this time, like the social distancing signage and hearts in windows, people are going to remember this time through those symbols, images and through our collections,” Orr says.

Submissions are still being collected virtually and people are asked to hold onto items until they can be dropped off.

As for Smith, he’s grateful future generations will be able to look back on what he saw through his lens.

“I’m hoping that the photos will tell a story, and tell a truthful story, of what happened and what happened here in British Columbia.”

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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