History museum

Documenting the Pandemic at the Sheerar’s Stillwater History Museum | Local columnists


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We are experiencing what (we hope) is nothing more than a century-old event. It will be a long time before we can fully understand everything that has happened and what is happening during this pandemic. It has been a difficult and dramatic time for many of us for so many different reasons. We have lost loved ones, our families have been torn apart, we have had financial and emotional hardships. Some of us have been stressed by overwork; others by sudden unemployment. We had to protect ourselves from the outside world – or were reluctantly forced to mingle with it.

The 2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic has been experienced differently by individuals and groups – responses have varied, shaped by age, occupation, location, and all the personal variables that distinguish a life of the other. But we are going through all of this together, and we will have this common bond in the future.

As with most major events like this, time can provide a perspective, which is why 10 and 20+ years after a major event, the media often provide a look back, a retrospective, which provides a perspective. overview as well as personal memories.

The Sheerar’s Stillwater History Museum takes a proactive approach to documenting the event as it unfolds. Recording people’s experiences during an event often gives very different answers than asking people to remember an event 10 years or more after the event. Newspaper clippings from the local Stillwater News Press have been collected and organized in notebooks for easy access. Stillwater companies are contacted and invited to share quotes, objects and photographs that represent their experiences with the pandemic.

The Stillwater History Museum is partnering with the Stillwater Public Library for its “National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Big Read: Stillwater”. Survival and resilience will be explored through Emily St. John Mandel’s book “Station Eleven”. The shared community reading experience highlights the important message that mere survival is not enough. The arts, reading and community connections make survival worth it. One of the elements of the scenario is a “Museum of Civilizations”. The museum had planned to reflect this in an exhibit that complemented the library program; However, with recent events, it has become clear that documenting the COVID experience through a “COVID Museum” would be a better use of this space.

The NEA Big Read series runs from October 2 to November 11. Registration for “reading” is open both online and in the library. On the library’s website, you can sign up for a discussion about the book to get a free copy of “Station 11” while supplies last. Inside each book, readers will find a half-leaf museum survey asking people to provide answers to a few questions to help document the experience of the pandemic while it is fresh in the sky. people’s minds. The museum will post similar questions on Facebook and Instagram and collect those answers. College students are part of several age groups who will also have the opportunity to respond.

The goal of the museum is twofold: to add another dimension to the current COVID-19 exhibit and to document and archive people’s experiences for future use as part of a retrospective exhibit. The museum hopes to create a recording of how the coronavirus and its many ripple effects have been experienced by our community. The public can contribute to this project by participating in the NEA Big Read and programming, stopping by the museum to view the exhibit, answering survey questions, sharing relevant images on social media and / or by loaning or donating items that embody the COVID experience to display in the “COVID Museum” briefcase.

If you have any items you would like to share or would like to participate in the survey, please contact the staff by calling 405-377-0359 or [email protected]

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