Sloan Museum invites community to document pandemic with scrapbook

Community members invited to submit materials to be preserved in museum’s collection
A child’s note of encouragement. Photo submitted to the COVID-19 Community Scrapbook by Regan Guevara.

A child’s note of encouragement. Photo submitted to the COVID-19 Community Scrapbook by Regan Guevara.

FLINT — Sloan Museum is inviting the Greater Flint community to submit journals, art, videos, photographs, and other materials documenting the COVID-19 pandemic. The museum has created a webform where the public can submit digital materials at SloanLongway.org/COVIDscrapbook.

“As a community partner and repository for Greater Flint history, it’s our responsibility to make sure the voice of our community is recorded,” Community Engagement Coordinator Jerome Threlkeld said. “This is an opportunity to have your experiences, strategies, opinions, photos and videos shape the historical record of how we survived 2020. Share your truth about what you see and what you’ve experienced so that we can make the story of 2020 come alive for those who inquire 25, 50 or 100 years from now.”

For many historic events, Sloan Museum has government records, photos, and news articles documenting what happened, but the human context is often missing or rare—the emotions, personal stories, and day-to-day details that help the public understand what it was like to live through a historic event.

“By encouraging people to start collecting now, we might get some details that would otherwise be missed,” Curator of Collections Geoff Woodcox said. “We are approaching this with a genuine desire to include as many voices in this effort as possible.”

When it is safe to do so, Sloan Museum will also look to collect physical objects that help tell the story of life during the pandemic. For now, the museum encourages people to include ideas for objects they would like to donate using the online form.

The materials collected will become part of Sloan Museum’s historical record preserving the story of the Greater Flint community. Archival materials and artifacts from the pandemic will be used by researchers and museum staff and could become part of future exhibitions or publications.

When Sloan Museum’s renovation and expansion project is completed in late 2021, the museum’s archives will move inside the main museum building, with expanded hours and improved access for anyone looking to do local history research.

“It’s really important to empower our community to have a hand in constructing the narrative around Coronavirus and other major movements and events the community is affected by, especially since traditional ways of recording history often leave so many voices out,” Collections Manager Erica Travis said. “Sloan Museum’s vision includes collecting and exhibiting objects and experiences of, by, and for the Greater Flint community. Our community does not need us to explain what our collective experience is; we just need to be a platform to share those perspectives.”

Greater Flint community members can submit digital materials at SloanLongway.org/COVIDscrapbook. Sloan Museum’s curatorial staff can also be reached via email at Collections@SloanLongway.org.