June 24th, 2024

Galt Museum collecting history of pandemic

By Tim Kalinowski on July 23, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDtkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com

Learning its own lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Galt Museum and Archives is putting a new emphasis on understanding the history being made today, says Galt CEO and executive director Darrin Martens.
“Everyday we are contributing to the history of our community, and of our culture,” he says. “It is imperative that we look at collecting today for future scholars, historians, community members, so that we’re doing our due diligence for them.
“I will give you an example. When COVID-19 first started, and we first started learning what this was globally, posters were going up in parks about what to do, wearing masks, sanitizer, those kinds of things. These are everyday things we are now used to, and I would argue that humanity has a short memory. And it is up to us as an institution to assemble these things.”
His staff has been consciously collecting artifacts associated with the COVID-19 pandemic which may seem everyday to us now, but will give future generations more context.
“So one of the things we have been doing is collecting posters that were outside in the parks, in the storefronts- collecting PPE, masks and sanitizer,” explains Martens. “And also, collecting the stories of people who have been going through the pandemic.
“What we know is 20, 30, 40, 50, 100 years from now when people are looking back to say: ‘How did they deal with the pandemic in 2020 and 2021?’ People will come to the Galt, and they will go online and search our collection, and they will be able to see here we have documented evidence, objects, everyday things, but this is how they responded and dealt with the pandemic.”
Martens said the pandemic has impacted society globally, and we are still, as a local culture here in Lethbridge, learning how to deal with the repercussions of everything that has happened. While things are in flux and transition, the course of future events are being decided, says Martens, and the Galt wants to help provide context to what comes after this when people look back on the events of 2020 and 2021.
“It is very much about contemporary culture, and collecting for tomorrow,” he reiterates. “We are still collecting things from the past. We will always do that; so we are always updating and telling better stories about our history, the people who have been here, and the new people that are coming here. But it is also incumbent upon us now to do that contemporary collecting for tomorrow.
“The reason I say that is if we look at the pandemic at the beginning of the 20th century (Spanish Influenza), there is very little documentation about how people reacted to that. We have very little. I think that has taught us as an institution that we can do a better job.”

Follow @TimKalHerald on Twitter

Share this story:


Comments are closed.