Clothing the Pandemic

This blog aims to follow the research related to the ICOM Solidarity Project 2021: “Clothing the Pandemic: Resiliency, Community & Unity Expressed Through an International Collaboration of the Covid-19 Facemask Project”, conducted by ICOM Costume. This research and digital exhibition project aims to document and contextualize the use of facemasks during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020-21. Facemasks have become the iconic object and symbol of the pandemic representing humanity’s resilience, community and unity during this global tragedy. The project will connect international museums and curators working on this topic, and connect their collections virtually to a global public. The stories of COVID-19 will be recorded in all the world’s history books. In a similar way, this project intends to preserve and explore the iconic object of this challenging pandemic since its very beginnings: the facemask. These facemasks are implicated in a wide range of facets of society, from health, fashion, art and crafts, to history, identity, and sustainability. It is important for museums and the public to have a broader understanding of textile and dress collecting relating to the pandemic. Parallel to health scientists, museum curators have been researching and working throughout the pandemic to study, understand and document the social dimensions of the pandemic. Around the world, many museums since April 2020 have begun to collect facemasks and other dress items chronicling this period of time and exploring their meanings for the people who make and wear them. The ICOM Costume Committee is spearheading this initiative and seeks to highlight and bring together the international efforts to document this moment in time through a joint virtual repository as a virtual exhibition and an international conference. This project is granted by the ‘Solidarity CFP’ launched by ICOM for 2021. Along with ICOM Costume, ICOM CC, ICME and ICOM Canada will be working on the project. By bringing together ICOM international and national committees this project aims to create a virtual exhibition of all aspects of the art, practice and culture of facemasks during the COVID-19 pandemic.