Materials related to the coronavirus pandemic are on display at the Urahoro town museum in Hokkaido. Photo: KYODO

Museums in Japan collect daily items to log pandemic history


A number of museums across Japan have started collecting materials related to the coronavirus pandemic, such as face masks and fliers, to keep track of everyday life during the outbreak and pass on as a legacy to future generations.

The move comes as museums realize they have hardly any record of the Spanish flu epidemic, which caused an estimated 20 million to 50 million deaths worldwide roughly 100 years ago.

In the Hokkaido town of Urahoro, local residents have donated about 200 items to a public museum in response to a request in February. The items include a flier informing residents of the cancelation of a festival, coupons for takeout meals and cloth face masks distributed by the central government

"Our daily lives will be part of history. We'd like to collect as many items as possible before they are thrown away," said Makoto Mochida, the 47-year-old curator at the town museum on the northernmost main island.

"When we look back on this era in the future, those materials will help us objectively examine it," he said.

In the western Japan city of Suita, a museum displays medical gowns and face shields to protect against the virus and a photo showing a long line of people at a drug store to purchase face masks.

"We would like to record what was happening (during the pandemic) and provide ways for future generations to learn about the current era," said Kenji Saotome, the 46-year-old curator at Suita City Museum.

The National Diet Library in Tokyo archives virus-related online data of public offices.

The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum at Waseda University in Tokyo has been asking theaters and drama groups to donate leaflets and scripts of the plays that were canceled or suspended due to the pandemic.

Akihiro Morihara, a 54-year-old senior official at the Yamanashi Prefectural Museum, which also collects materials related to the pandemic, said, "If there had been records of the Spanish flu at the grassroots level, they might have provided a clue as to how to combat the current infection."

"Disasters and epidemics repeatedly occur, but people soon forget them. We would like to create opportunities to look back on the current era through exhibitions," he said.


©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Do Diamond Princess items count? Or is that in the "Asterisk" wing of the museum?

7 ( +9 / -2 )

All museums have one item on there bucket list of thing to have, some art galleries want a Rembrandt, car museums want a Lamborghini pro-to type, or a one off Bugatti, some war museums would like to own a Panzer 4 tank, I wonder if these museums want to get a "Abe mask" as they seem to be very rare.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Brian Whenway, that item would be a "Abe mask" that had been worn by PM Abe himself. I read he has stopped wearing them so it is getting rare now. I hope he has not disposed all he has used and should donate them to all these museums.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

They should put that cruise ship outside the Covid museum, like they did a blue whale model outside Ueno museum.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The museum can have my Abenomask. Haven't opened it and probably won't. Useless. But somebody in Abe's circle got rich.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

What a brilliant idea, obvious when someone says it but easily overlooked otherwise. So good for them.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Even though its called "Ultra Light" by Uniqlo and this is located in Hokkaido, the guy in the picture is wearing a down jacket in the middle of the summer.

Do they crank the museum air-con to eleven up there?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Other museums in the world also collect photos, short videos of life at home and short essays. It would be a good idea to put all those items from all over the world in one museum that can be accessed by an interactive virtual tour

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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