In December last year, we asked you: What object sums up your experiences of 2020? What object will most remind you of 2020 in years to come? What ‘thing’ couldn’t you have coped without? Or has kept your spirits up?
The response has been fantastic, with many of you submitting your photos of objects in response to these questions, alongside an explanation. These objects have now been donated to a virtual exhibition that explores our changing relationship with the things around us and how we come to understand our collective experiences through objects, rather than discussion.
The museum features a selection of both unusual and regular everyday objects, that now have more meaning; everything from celery sticks that remind one person of the panic buying and anxiety of the first lockdown, to incredible new artwork created to starve off boredom and support mental health and wellbeing, from headphones keeping us connected with family, friends and colleagues, to a favourite bench from a daily exercise walk.
Submissions have been grouped into ten major themes, and each given their own gallery within the virtual museum:
- Gallery of Nature
- Gallery of Hobbies and Entertainment
- Gallery of Pets
- Gallery of Technology
- Gallery of Footwear
- Gallery of Food and Drink
- Gallery of Work and Study
- Gallery of Friends and Family
- Gallery of Mental Health and Wellbeing
- Gallery of Covid Objects
Had we asked people to share a photo that sums up the year for them in any regular ‘normal’ year, I suspect we would have seen some very different images and objects. People would have posted things relating to special ‘moments’ that happened in the year – the holiday snapshot, the wedding, the new toy. But 2020 has been different. Our ‘moments’ became ‘months’ as lockdown extended over the year. Our worlds became smaller, circling round a square mile or so. While loss – of relatives, jobs or opportunity – has seeped into so many lives, we’ve been edged into appreciating the mundane and gaining comfort from things we had taken for granted.
So it is no surprise that the Museum of 2020 yielded so many ‘every day’ things. We now have more empathy for the person who posted a picture of a pair of trainers because getting out running was now a lifeline; or the slippers, because getting out just wasn’t possible. Some of these objects have sad stories behind them, some have happy memories or make you laugh. It’s incredible, the resonance you feel by reading through these submissions, by people you’ve never met before. I think people are seeking out solidarity; often needing to feel the connection with others in the face of something alien and universal.