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How Will We Remember the Pandemic? Museums Are Already Beginning to Decide

Historians in the News
tags: museums, public history, COVID-19



LOS ANGELES — Six-year-old Franklin Wong captured the simple frustration of being a student in this city’s Unified School District in mid-March, after his classes were canceled. He wrote in big blocky letters: “I did not go anywhere,” and added an unhappy face in green and red crayon for his remote-learning assignment.

This may be the first time a first grader's homework is headed to a permanent museum collection instead of a parent’s refrigerator door, a novelty that underscores how far into uncharted waters curators are sailing.

The Autry Museum of the American West, which recently acquired Franklin’s diary, is among the growing contingent of museums, academic institutions and historical societies from here to Bozeman, Mont., and Washington, D.C., that have begun recording this moment of collective uncertainty in the country’s war against the coronavirus.

“Museums have a responsibility to meet history head on,” said Tyree Boyd-Pates, 31, associate curator at the Autry, whose goal is collecting moments of shared experience as “a chance to record how the West navigated this epidemic.”

 

Read entire article at New York Times

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