New-York Historical Society is collecting objects related to the COVID-19 pandemic

Posted On Fri, April 10, 2020 By

Posted On Fri, April 10, 2020 By In Museums

Business sign 3.20.20, photo by Stephen Harmon, courtesy of New-York Historical

The New-York Historical Society is asking New Yorkers to donate any materials related to the coronavirus pandemic as a way to preserve this moment in the city’s history. First created during September 11, the museum’s History Responds initiative has collected objects related to movements like Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, marriage equality, and others.


Lizzy (age 4) with her rainbow artwork, photo by Leeka Murphy

The museum is looking for objects and paper or digital items that document the current crisis, “including the heroic efforts of medical personnel, the plight of victims, the effects on businesses, schools, and cultural groups; and the creativity borne of isolation,” according to the society.

New-York Historical’s Patricia D. Klingenstein Library is collecting paper memorabilia, like flyers, postcards, signs, emails, drawings of rainbows, or anything that shows how New Yorkers are handling the current situation. Other items the museum will accept include household objects that reflect life under quarantine.


Homemade mask in progress, Heidi Nakashima


Rock painted by Lisa Johansen, Kew Gardens, Queens

“When the New-York Historical Society was established in 1804, our founders had just lived through the turbulent years of the American Revolution and recognized the need to preserve eyewitness evidence of their own historical moment,” Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of New-York Historical Society, said in a press release. “In that vein, we continue the practice of documenting history as it happens so that future generations will better understand the unprecedented times in which we are now living.”

More information on how to donate items or paper and digital ephemera for the museum’s collection can be found here.

The Museum of the City of New York is also chronicling the current crisis with help from New Yorkers, as the Wall Street Journal reported. The museum is asking city residents to share photos that document personal experiences during the pandemic, using the hashtag #CovidStoriesNYC. Staff will select images on a rolling basis to repost on their social media feeds.

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