Collecting COVID-19

What object(s) would you contribute to a museum to represents your experience of the COVID-19 pandemic? Read Adam Popescu’s article from the New York Times (May 25, 2020) to see what museums are collecting and the questions that arise from the act of collecting and deciding what is collected.

Ruben Natal-San Miguel’s “Toilet Paper Hoarder, Manhattan NYC” was submitted to the Museum of the City of New York‘s #CovidStoriesNYC project.
Credit: Ruben Natal-San Migue, via Museum of the City of New York
How Will We Remember the Pandemic? Museums Are Already Deciding

Fire devastates museum in Brazil

Guardian graphic. Image: Google Earth. Source: Museu Nacional

A fire has completely destroyed the 200-year old National Museum in Rio de Janeiro. Once the home of Brazil’s monarch, the palace became the largest history museum in Latin America. Its collections included art and artifacts of indigenous peoples, as well as Egyptian and Greco-Roman works, fossils, and so much more.

Slavery Identified in Art Museums

What do we see when we look at a painted or sculpted portrait? Do we see personality? Clothing? Fashion? Setting? Do we read wall labels? If When we do, we generally learn who the artist is (if the artist is known), when she or he made the work, and what the work is made of. And if the museum is doing its job, we might learn more about object in an illuminating text panel that often directs what we make of what wen see. But what do we see in that work of art when the museum contextualizes it within a picture of its time and place of origin — an America when a significant population of Americans were enslaved Africans? The Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts is rewriting its labels.

John Singleton Copley, “Lucretia Chandler” (1763), oil on canvas, Copley was one of the Boston area’s most prominent painters and painted this portrait of the daughter of a wealthy New England judge named Lucretia. The new signage at the Worcester Art Museum now notes that Chandler’s father, Judge John Chandler II (1683-1762), owned two slaves that he left to family members upon his death (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

This took a long time…

Why? I’d like to read the follow-up story here. How will the public help identify these works?

“The Louvre is showing Nazi-looted art in a bid to find its owners. Some wonder why it took so long.”

James McAuley, Washington Post, Feb. 2. 2018.

Paintings looted by Nazis during World War II on display at the Louvre in Paris on Tuesday. (Christophe Ena/AP)