Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales (NMW) has launched a new initiative to create a “national memory and record of the [Covid-19] pandemic in Wales”.
From Friday 15 May, the museum will invite the public to share their experiences of lockdown through an online survey, promoted on its website and social media platforms.
The questionnaire will gather first-hand accounts of the lockdown and ask people to suggest objects that represent their experiences. Volunteers will then begin to collect and document these objects as lockdown measures are lifted.
Working with People's Collection Wales, a digital heritage organisation, NMW will also create an online gallery of images and survey responses that will become a digital resource for schools.
Sioned Hughes, the head of public history and archaeology at NMW, says the questionnaire will be used “as a platform to connect with and build on our relationships with our community partners”.
“We will invite those who are able to act as community collectors, sharing the questionnaire with their networks to document their role in the crisis,” she adds.
“This will ensure that the responses to the questionnaire are diverse and are representative of communities across Wales.”
The museum will run the survey for several months and send participants a new questionnaire in a year’s time. “This will enable us to measure how their lives have changed and record the longer-term impact of the pandemic on aspects of their lives and the communities where they live,” Hughes says.
NMW will also approach survey respondents to gather oral histories. “We will record the oral histories of as many participants as possible, so that we record the emotion, and the experiences of living through the health crisis,” Hughes says. “Oral histories will also provide context and meaning to the material culture of the pandemic that we will collect as part of the campaign.”
The museum says the approach used in this project goes back to 1937, when it surveyed over 500 people to document their experiences of the economic depression.
David Anderson, the director general of NMW, says: “As Wales’ national museum, we have a responsibility to create a national memory and record of the pandemic – a story of now, recorded as the lived experiences of everyone in Wales. This is an unprecedented time and one that we must record for future generations.
“Amgueddfa Cymru was an early advocate of this type of collecting– one which placed community knowledge at the heart of its practice, and which continues today.”
The Museums Association has published a statement regarding the ethics of contemporary collecting during the Covid-19 crisis.