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Hertsmere museums are launching #CollectingCOVID

Last Modified January 13, 2021
COVID-19 has brought many changes to Hertsmere residents' lives since the first lockdown almost a year ago.

The 'new normal' swiftly followed creating a huge shift in our social and working lives; organisations began to close and restrictions were made on people's movements across the country.

Hertsmere museums are seeking to collect objects and first-hand experiences to reflect local people’s lives during the pandemic, to keep a record and ensure future generations will be able to learn about and understand this extraordinary period.

The museums are keen for photographs, journals, letters and items to show life during the pandemic, tiers and lockdown, such as:
• How the physical spaces in Hertsmere have been transformed – from a bustling town centres to deserted streets, socially distanced gatherings, queues, empty shelves.
• The effects on key and home workers – clothing, stories and experiences, homemade facemasks, letters, cards, journals.
• How children and young people are reacting to and coping with the changes now that many schools are closed – examples of home learning, games played, posters and pictures, diaries, coloured pebbles, chalk drawings on pavements.

Curators for Hertsmere's four museums are hoping to collect both physical and digital objects, reflecting the voices and experiences of residents from across the borough. From those working on the front line to those quietly working in the background, from parents turned home-school support to young people online gaming, the museums want to collect objects from those that can tell the story of Hertsmere in lockdown.

Councillor Caroline Clapper, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, said: “Hertsmere, like the rest of England, is in our second lockdown and we are all finding new ways to cope with the altered way of life the pandemic has imposed.

"During the first lockdown we created things quickly and for short-term use, which tend to be thrown away and rarely retained. The paper NHS rainbows put in windows may be a child’s drawing, but in a century, it could be an important record of a life-defining moment in time.

"This time we may have been more prepared with small office areas at home, online learning or new ways of keeping in touch with loved ones, but there is still a story to tell. We want to hear about how you are coping, what tools and techniques you are using to work and stay connected, how your home has adapted, as well as the ways you are protecting you and your families mental health.

"This is a major moment in our social history and our museums want to collect a range of objects, from clothing to hairclippers, from diaries to memes that reflect the physical and emotional response of the borough’s residents to COVID-19.

"Our museums strive to tell the story of their towns and its people. It is imperative to capture this time for future generations, to help us understand how this city dealt with an extraordinary situation.

“Remember, it’s not just old things the museums collect. As the situation with coronavirus continues to unfold, if you have any items you think might be of interest to reflect this time in our history, please keep them aside for our museums to consider.”

Pictures, posters, stories and information on items you would be willing to donate can be emailed to:
• Bushey Museum and Art Gallery: busmt@busheymuseum.org (FAO Tony Woollard)
• Elstree and Borehamwood Museum: info@elstree-museum.org.uk  
• Potters Bar Museum: pottersbarmuseum@gmail.com  
• Radlett and District Museum: info@radlettmuseum.com

Journals recording life as it has been through the pandemic can be anonymous and there will be an embargo period.

Please contact the Heritage and Museums Officer for more information: ruth.stratton@hertsmere.gov.uk or visit: www.hertsmere.gov.uk/collectingcovid

Posted on Wednesday 13th January 2021

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