Did you know it’s International Museum Day (IMD) today?
Of course museums are closed around the world at the moment as we all cope with the changed reality of life during COVID-19, but that doesn’t stop them being creative and having a red hot crack at celebrating the day and bringing it to the world.
This year as part of celebrations for IMD, the Council of Museums Australia has launched a social media initiative calling on all museums and galleries ‘to choose an object, work of art, or other artefact that reflects this moment in time in some fundamental way’.
I was rather taken by the idea so, in keeping with my view that my house is a bit like a living museum (only messier), I thought I’d choose one item from home to showcase, something that’s represents me and my family and is reflective of the strange times we’ve been living through. It’s been a very tough and rather bizarre year indeed, one indeed that will be forever highlighted in the annals of history. We started with the worst bush fires ever experienced; record-breaking heat; filthy smoke that kept us indoors for weeks; and now we’re adrift in a pandemic. We are indeed living history.
I chose an artwork for my selection to represent this time we’re in. It’s not sad or morbid at all though. It’s a beautiful creation by my six year old granddaughter. (Okay, I helped a bit, but that’s part of the exercise.) Perhaps it’s not the Mona Lisa, but I think it’s a bit like a masterpiece, and very reflective of the times we’re in.
Like so many children throughout the world, Miss 6 has been out of school for the last couple of months with no contact with friends and schoolmates (apart from Zoom) and has spent all the time at home, mostly under her Mum’s feet while she tries to keep the three very small people entertained at home, keep everyone organised and fed, do homeschooling, and work from home to boot. She’s managed exceptionally well.
During these weeks of shutdown, just about all outside activities and excursions have been off the table and lives have been turned upside down. Luckily in Canberra, getting outside for play and exploration was not taken off the table (with some restrictions of course) and fortunately as well, our city has fared well in the sickness stakes and we were the first jurisdiction in Australia to be caronavirus free and to start easing restrictions. That meant I got to spend time with the grandbubbies again (at least the ones here).
Amid the widespread despair and gloom, there have been some positives as well. In these quiet few weeks as we’ve hunkered down at home, some of the external pressures have been removed. We’ve spent a lot of time in the garden and wandering the streets outside, enjoying the fresh air and looking for treasures as the city turns on its lovely display of autumn glows. We don’t get far on the walks, sometimes 100 metres, sometimes less, and they’re exceptionally slow, but that’s part of the beauty of them. Suddenly you don’t have commitments and places to be. School was out, activities cancelled, time pressures taken off – leaving us to potter slowly, observing, collecting and just being together. It’s been a bit of a blessing in disguise. And on every walk, we’d come back with a basket – or a bag, or a pocketful – of treasures and colours.
Some of those treasures have been pressed for another time but last week we converted some of them – leaves, petals, seeds and such – into a mermaid. It took a long time to place and glue and colour and add the extra sand and sparkle, but there was no hurry and nothing else to get in the way. It was actually a gift from time and Miss 6 is very proud of the results. Straight to the pool room, I’d say, or to be laminated for future admiration.
I’m constantly aware for millions around the world, this has been a wretched time, full of despair, loneliness and sadness with terrible health and economic consequences, and will continue to be for some time to come. But personally I’m grateful, for me, it’s also been a time to slow down and catch up, and take in some of the small things—which are actually very big things and so important.
This mermaid artwork speaks to me of that time when the world slowed down and we could take the time to do some things we don’t normally make the time for, when I wandered often with small three children with no agendas and made artworks with them. When they explored, and played, and created, in ways they mightn’t have done before.
If you want to know more about International Museum Day, there’s a whole website to explore.
What about you? What object would you choose from your house/museum to reflect the year that is?