Many museums nationwide have begun to collect materials related to the new coronavirus pandemic, such as face masks and leaflets, and track daily life during the outbreak, and pass it on as a legacy to the next generation.
The move happens because the museum has few records of the Spanish flu epidemic, recognizing that an estimated 20 to 50 million people died around the world almost 100 years ago.
In Urahoro Town, Hokkaido, about 200 items were donated by local residents to the public museum in response to the request in February. Flyers to inform residents of the festival cancellation, takeaway coupons, face masks distributed by the central government, etc.
“Our lives are part of history. We want to collect as many items as possible before they are thrown away,” said Makoto Mochida, a 47-year-old curator at the northernmost town museum on the main island.
“Looking back on this era in the future, those materials will help us to look objectively,” he said.
The museum, located in Suita, Western Japan, displays medical gowns and face shields to protect against viruses and pictures of people lined up to buy facial masks at drug stores.
Kenji Saotome, a 46-year-old curator at the Suita City Museum of Art, said, “We want to provide a way for future generations to know what the present era is like (and what happened during the pandemic).”
The National Diet Library in Tokyo archives virus-related online data from government offices.
The Tsubouchi Memorial Theater Museum at Waseda University in Tokyo asks theaters and theater groups to donate flyers and scripts for plays that were or were canceled due to a pandemic.
Akihiro Morihara (54) of the Yamanashi Prefectural Museum of Art also collects materials related to pandemics, “If there was a record of a Spanish flu at the grassroots level, how to fight the current infection.”
“Disasters and infectious diseases are recurring, but people will soon forget them. We want to create an opportunity to look back on the present era through exhibitions.”