By Judith Rubin, InPark News Editor
ABOVE IMAGES: Grand Rapids Public Museum Facebook page
Recently, the Grand Rapids Public Museum donated thousands of protective face masks as well as a store of face shields, Tyvek suits and personal respiratory masks to a local hospital. The museum is located in Michigan which has been hard-hit with many COVID-19 cases.
Many museums have protective equipment of this kind, used for handling, restoring or moving artifacts or other items in their collections. Making donations of such items was the first thing on a list of four practical steps museums can take to help their communities and healthcare providers in the global pandemic, per a March 26, 2020 newsletter from the UK-based Museums Association.
Around the world, many more institutions, large and small, are stepping up. “Did you know that handling archival materials at some museums require N95 protective masks?” tweeted the Fairbanks House (Dedham, MA). “We are proud to donate ours in this time of need. We call upon other local museums to do the same!”
Artforum reported that conservators at the Stedelijk Museum, the Rijksmuseum, and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam were donating their stock of face masks and surgical gloves to medical workers and hospitals. According to the Artforum report, the donations were catalyzed by a tweet from Erma Hermens, the Rijksmuseum’s technical art historian.
It’s heartening to see how the world’s museums have found ways to continue to fulfill their role in the community while their doors are closed to the public – by reaching out with content online and by donating much-needed supplies to protect workers on the front lines.