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Bridging the Distance – sharing our COVID-19 pandemic experiences

The National Museum of Australia in Canberra has launched a digital initiative to provide a national platform to record shared experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic, as part of an integrated community outreach program in this difficult time.

Australians who wish to share their experiences, stories, reflections and images from the pandemic are invited to join the Museum’s Facebook group Bridging the Distance – Sharing Our COVID-19 Pandemic Experiences and to take part in a national conversation around an event that is unprecedented in our times and which is already a defining moment in the nation’s history.

The Museum will hold the content shared on this platform as a record of these times and look to develop an exhibition based on the stories it contains.

National Museum director, Dr Mathew Trinca, said that as a custodian of Australia’s social history and cultural heritage, the Museum is committed to recording the stories of this pandemic, which is redefining the way Australians, live, work, share and communicate.

“In what is already a Defining Moment in both Australia’s and the world’s history, COVID-19 is challenging every aspect of our lives. The story of this corona virus calamity is still unfolding but our memories and recollections of the pandemic will resound for many years to come,” Dr Trinca said.

“By playing our role now in recording the everyday experiences of Australians as they navigate this difficult and sometimes tragic terrain, we hope to both help bridge the isolation many of us are feeling right now and assist Australians to help make sense of this period when they look back on it in years to come,” he said.

The Bridging the Distance Facebook group is part of a wider Museum initiative to take its collection into people’s homes while the Museum’s doors are closed due to the pandemic.

In coming weeks this will include transforming the major exhibition Endeavour Voyage – the Untold Stories of Cook and the First Australians, into a digital experience which will look at both the view from the ship and the largely untold view from the shore – and invite Australians to experience these stories in parallel with the Endeavour’s passage up the nation’s east coast.

The Museum’s broader digital initiative #YourMuseum also includes online chats with curators, online gallery tours and video object profiles.

“This digital initiative will make the Museum accessible to audiences across Australia and the world, with the delivery of content on the Museum’s website and across its social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Weibo,” Dr Trinca said.

“#YourMuseum is here to tell our nation’s stories in these uncertain times. Share your story with us and help us bridge the distance in these uncertain days,” Dr Trinca said.