COVID Chronicles

Museum captures children’s voices in coronavirus exhibit

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As part of last year’s exhibit on emergency preparedness, the Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County handed out safety kits to visitors.

“We distributed masks last year. How weird is that?” executive director Kat Burkhart said.

Now more than six months into the community’s new reality, the museum is building a collection of items documenting the coronavirus pandemic — from newspaper articles and political mailings to hand washing signs.

The collection also captures the voices of Montgomery County’s younger citizens: children whose memories of the pandemic’s earlier days play out in their pictures of “MoCo Superheroes” and in postcards documenting their time spent at home.

This summer, when the museum had to change plans for its regular school break program, families could pick up activity bags with coloring sheets of masked figures that children filled in with the faces of inspirational people like parents and firefighters.

The pictures have been put on display next to a showcase of the postcards, which children were encouraged to mail back to the museum as part of a lesson on the post office. In one postcard, a child writes about playing fetch with their dog.

Another child wrote that she was annoyed by the quarantine. On the postcard, a smiley-faced virus says “hi!” as a stick-figure child exclaims “Aaaaaaarrrgh!! Corona is teasing me!!!!”

“Twenty years from now, you can save these and they become part of the story,” Burkhart said.

Postcards are still arriving in the mail and will be added to the collection.

The pandemic hit shortly after the museum unveiled its latest exhibit, “We the People, Me the Person,” a nonpartisan spotlight on the branches of government, elections, women’s suffrage and the census. The exhibit will remain on display through May.

Museum staff will accept donations of current campaign material after the election, Burkhart said.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday throughSaturday. The museum is at 222 S. Washington St.

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