Glen­bow cap­tur­ing life dur­ing the pan­demic

Mu­seum asks Cal­gar­i­ans to send in cards, letters, posts about COVID ex­pe­ri­ences

Calgary Herald - - YOU - ERIC VOLMERS

For many, life dur­ing the COVID -19 pan­demic may seem like a hazy mix of hap­haz­ard home-school­ing, Net­flix binge­ing and judg­men­tal Face­book posts.

But we are ac­tu­ally liv­ing through un­prece­dented times, a rare peace­time pe­riod where the en­tire world is liv­ing with un­cer­tainty while get­ting a front-seat view of history un­fold­ing. The Glen­bow Mu­seum wants to record it all for pos­ter­ity and is putting out a call for letters, post­cards, emails, il­lus­tra­tions and even so­cial me­dia posts from Cal­gar­i­ans to get a pic­ture of life dur­ing COVID-19.

“We’ve been talk­ing about it for a few weeks, un­der­stand­ing that this is a strange ex­pe­ri­ence and a very strange time in our lives and it re­ally does de­serve to be rec­og­nized in that sense by mu­se­ums like Glen­bow,” mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Jenny Con­way Fisher says. “We wanted to make sure it was an ac­tive project, that it was some­thing that gen­uinely went along with our mis­sion and our val­ues in terms of ac­ti­vat­ing things and keep­ing things alive and hav­ing it be cre­ative and re­lated to art.”

Dear Glen­bow asks par­tic­i­pants to an­swer spe­cific ques­tions, in­clud­ing: What is your life like right now? Is there an ob­ject, an ac­tiv­ity, a rou­tine or a per­son that is im­por­tant to you right now? What do you hope to re­mem­ber about this ex­pe­ri­ence? What do you think is im­por­tant for our fu­ture selves or our de­scen­dants to un­der­stand or learn from this time in our lives?

But Con­way says the mu­seum sees this as a col­lec­tive project and is not putting on strict pa­ram­e­ters.

“It’s not about us look­ing at a bunch of ob­jects on a ta­ble and say­ing ‘Well, that’s im­por­tant and that’s im­por­tant,’” she says. “It’s more like ask­ing the peo­ple who are most im­por­tant to us — our com­mu­nity — to tell us what’s im­por­tant and tell us what they are go­ing through be­cause I think that will have the most res­o­nance later on.”

Dear Glen­bow is one of a num­ber of COVID -19 ini­tia­tives un­der­way by mu­se­ums in Canada and the U.S. The Royal Al­berta Mu­seum in Ed­mon­ton, for in­stance, has be­gun col­lect­ing ar­ti­facts that re­flect life dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­demic.

The letters and other com­mu­ni­ca­tion gath­ered as part of Dear Glen­bow will make up an ar­chive that will hope­fully spark other projects by artists and his­to­ri­ans, both in the near and dis­tant fu­ture.

“How will they use it? It’s too early to tell,” Glen­bow pres­i­dent and CEO Ni­cholas Bell says. “The im­por­tant thing is we will be able to pro­vide this in­for­ma­tional re­source, al­most this trea­sure trove that will be able to serve many dif­fer­ent pur­poses. On the one hand, we may not know how it gets used in our life­times and that’s OK. On the other hand, we may look back at this in five years and say ‘Wow, what a strange year 2020 was or what a strange year 2021 was?’ Maybe it’s the un­cer­tainty of what nor­mal could look like in even a few years that makes that im­por­tant to crys­tal­lize.”

Letters will be col­lected un­til July 31, 2020. Mail to: Dear Glen­bow At­ten­tion Col­lec­tions Man­ager, Glen­bow Mu­seum 130 9th Av­enue S.E., Cal­gary, Al­berta T2G 0P3; or email to Dear­glen­bow@ glen­bow.org; or via mes­sage on Face­book, In­sta­gram or Twit­ter us­ing the hash­tag #Dear­glen­bow.

AZIN GHAFFARI FILES

The Glen­bow Mu­seum wants to hear about Cal­gar­i­ans’ life dur­ing the pan­demic and is invit­ing peo­ple to sub­mit letters, post­cards, emails, il­lus­tra­tions and posts to its Dear Glen­bow project.

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