COVID-19 Collection

The Powerhouse is working in partnership with world-leading medical research institute, The Westmead Institute for Medical Research (WIMR), as it continues to build a collection responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the nation. The partnership will assist the Powerhouse to collect medical and scientific material related to the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, contact tracing research and technology, and stories from lead researchers and the patients with whom they are working.

The Powerhouse has continued to acquire materials relating to the COVID-19 pandemic to document the global crisis for the nation. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Collection aims to record the scientific, economic, cultural and social impact the outbreak has had on Australia. Guided by the Museum’s core collecting areas of science, technology, engineering, design, arts and Indigenous culture, curators have begun sourcing materials which capture the social and scientific stories about the unfolding pandemic and communities’ responses.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Collection will capture the urgency of the time; the collaborative nature of the responses; the medical treatment and research; systems of communication and technological innovation, and cultural and artistic expression including data interpretation, and expressions of the care, fear and resilience demonstrated by people and communities. The collection will reflect the immediacy of the initial wave of the pandemic in Australia though to the era of learning to live with the virus.

The collection will include materials such as:

  • masks, scrubs and other personal protective equipment made by Australian fashion labels including Cue
  • Ernabella ‘bush billboards’ made from junk car bonnets in Pitjantjatjara language to communicate safety messages with members of the Anangu community (APY lands)
  • stories around the effect on retail such as the exponential rise in online shopping including sales in lingerie and adult toys
  • DIY paste-ups and signs that appeared around cities and suburbs with messages of care and togetherness
  • multi-lingual public health posters made by the Northern Land Council and the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT
  • artistic works that reflect on periods of lockdown and quarantine
  • design objects and photographs that document the streets of Sydney during lockdown and capture the changing nature of visual communication and the built environment in this era
  • learning from home teaching material in English, Arabic, Dari and Turkish
  • video and other artefacts reflecting the adaptation to online performances and social events for diverse communities.

The acquisitions will be available to the public through the Powerhouse collection online, one of the largest digitisation projects in Australia. View the collection online now


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