National Museum of American History to Collect Objects Related to COVID-19

Museums across the country have been forced to adapt their operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many institutions are looking to their collections to respond to the pandemic as well, creating relevant online exhibits or collecting communities’ stories of the event. The National Museum of American History announced yesterday that it will also be conducting a collecting project related to COVID-19.

The museum has created a Rapid Response Collecting Task Force to document events related to the COVID-19 pandemic and its repercussions in many aspects of American life. Currently, staff is working on a collecting plan that will balance the urgent need to collect ephemera related to events as they happen with the need to provide a long-term historical perspective. Curators are also concerned with the preservation of the collected objects.

The task force is looking for objects that relate to every subject area within the museum, including medicine, business, politics, and culture. New materials collected during the project will join the museum’s other collections related to pandemics and national crises, such as the Great Depression.

Currently, the National Museum of American History cannot accept any donations, as the building is closed. Curators are asking that donors hold on to potential donations for future acquisition. Interested donors can send photos and descriptions of objects to

The National Museum of American History is working with other Smithsonian institutions to coordinate efforts and explore how cultural organizations can serve the public during this time of crisis.