An ongoing project by the Royal BC Museum called COVID-19 Collecting For Our Time aims to capture and document the experiences of British Columbians during this unprecedented time.
“We realized that we needed to be collecting, in real-time, the experiences of British Columbians during this historic time,” said Leah Best, knowledge head at the museum.
The project is focused on collecting memories, photographs and digital experiences instead of objects, at least for now. Best says the reason for that is because the museum didn’t want to add to people’s trauma by asking for physical objects.
“We also realized early on that we did not want to approach people for material culture — objects — when people were under duress,” said Best. “It was a traumatic time and we did not want to add to anyone’s trauma. So we made the decision, early on, to collect experiences, and then with the fullness of time, to be able to return to those people who submitted their experiences and have a discussion around what we might be able to collect in the physical sense.”
Another reason for not collecting physical items is that many significant items would have been things like PPE, which the museum decided was not something they should be asking for during the pandemic.
“That’s something that people would think of right away, is that we would be out there collecting PPE, but we also understood that we did not want to be distracting anyone working on the frontlines with our request. So, primarily what we’ve received to date are photographs” says Best.
The Royal BC Museum is inviting submissions from across the province and Best says they really want to document the experiences of “marginalized communities” during the pandemic.
“Those would include communities in the geographic sense, especially from northern British Columbia. It would also include Indigenous communities, and communities such as the Francophone community who we have already been working with,” said Best.
Learn more about the project in this edition of This Week In History with Veronica Cooper.
This Week In History is sponsored by the Royal BC Museum