The focus is on documenting this moment in time as we live through it, and to preserve a material record of the events and experiences of 2020 and 2021 for the future. Many years from now, these objects will tell people about how the pandemic reshaped our lives.
Initially, we focused on collecting objects across six main themes: Public Health, Hospitals and Treatment; Politics; Economy; Tourism; Education; and Everyday Life. Subsequently, we’ve collected a diverse range of objects across all of our collections areas, from a rainbow-adorned beach pebble on a doorstep in Shetland to fish skin face masks from Alaska.
How do frozen tissue samples from the 1960s help animal conservation in the time of COVID-19? Andrew Kitchener and Gill Murray-Dickson explore the importance of our Biobank and the CryoArks initiative for continuing research to answer the questions of today and the future.Read more
See how two artists have tackled the emotional impact of the pandemic through the art of masks.Read more
Although our buildings were closed during lockdown, our curators kept collecting. See some of the objects that capture a snapshot of 2020.2020 in seven objects
COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine and syringe for vaccination .T.2021.12. The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine was developed by the University of Oxford and the pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca. The vaccine was developed by building on existing research into a vaccine for MERS was approved for use in the UK on 30 December 2020. Now over 2 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered across the globe.
Beach pebble decorated with a rainbow, from Hoswick, Shetland. X.2020.51. (© Neila Kalra) The rainbow has a long history as a symbol of hope and quickly became one of the defining images of the pandemic, with colourful pictures adorning windows across Europe. Painted pebbles were placed on doorsteps and in some impressively long ‘covid snakes’, winding their way through public spaces. This pebble was collected and decorated by the Wood family.
Signage from NHS Louisa Jordan, Scotland’s emergency critical care facility during the COVID-19 pandemic, Glasgow (2020). M.2021.2.1-2. The temporary hospital was named after the Scottish nurse Louisa Jordan, who served with the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service during the First World War and died in Serbia in 1915. Constructed in just over two weeks, the hospital opened in April 2020 and was designed to relieve extreme pressures on Scotland’s established hospitals.
Knitted hearts (© NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde). T.2020.56. Intensive care nurse Liz Smith at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary put out a Facebook request in spring 2020 for people to knit or sew sets of hearts to connect patients in intensive care with their loved ones while separated.
‘Breath’ mask, crochet tufted and hand dyed mask, and video, by threadstories, Ireland (2020). K.2021.6. During the Irish Lockdown and uncertainty of what was happening, threadstories took solace in the time-consuming nature of her practice to create a series of new masks that visually reflected the tension and anxieties that she and others were carrying within them during this time.
‘Stay Home!’, breastplate and backpiece, by Sera Park Choi, Rhode Island, USA (2020). K.2021.5. Created at the start of 2020, when the world shut down, ‘Stay Home!’ a protective beaded vest by Sera Park Choi, resonates with the global situation at the time, and the order from governments around the world to ʻStay Home’. Her work also draws attention to the societal racism which continues to be levelled at Asian communities.
‘CoronaCrisisKruk’ Social Distancing Bench, designed by Björn van den Broek, Object Studio in 2020 and manufactured in Amsterdam, 2021. K.2021.8. The ‘CoronaCrisisKruk’ is a portable bench designed for social distancing, originally created in 2020 for the Noorderpark in the Amsterdam-Noord district of the Dutch capital. The bench is comprised of two stools or ‘krukken’, connected by a 1.5m beam in line with Dutch government social distancing regulations at the time.
Face mask of white cotton embroidered with the image of a gannet in flight and ‘2m’, made by artist and designer Deirdre Nelson. X.2021.27.
Beaded fish skin COVID-19 mask made from sockeye salmon skin and glass beads. V.2020.9.
COVID-19 face mask made from Ugandan barkcloth entitled 'Signs of the Now', by Jose Hendo in 2020. V.2021.8.