Museum collecting items to record history of COVID-19 in Taiwan

Taiwan Can Help labels (left) and Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (CNA file photos)

TAIPEI (CNA) — The National Museum of Taiwan History is collecting items and materials to record Taiwan’s experience with the COVID-19 conoravirus pandemic, with a wish list that includes the health minister’s vest that he wears during his daily press briefings on the outbreak.

The museum posted its plan to establish a COVID-19-themed collection on its Facebook page on May 6, the first time the museum in the southern city of Tainan has sought public participation through social media, it told CNA Wednesday.

The museum said it seeks to preserve records of a time when people were living a very different life of wearing face masks and observing social distancing rules in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus.

According to the post, the museum has received various items, such as an improvised “aerosol box” that helps physicians perform endotracheal intubations and was created by Lai Hsien-yung (賴賢勇), an anesthesiologist with the Mennonite Christian Hospital in Hualien, as well as face masks and protective clothing made by local manufacturers for medical workers.

The museum also received a copy of the April 14 edition of the New York Times, in which a privately crowd-funded ad aiming to promote Taiwan’s role in the world in the fight against COVID-19 and wider health issues was published.

The museum also made a wish list of three items it hopes to acquire — the vest worn by Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center established Jan. 20, the banners printed with “Taiwan Can Help” on supplies donated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to other countries, and the cardboard cutouts of fans placed in the stands by the Rakuten Monkeys baseball team when Taiwan’s professional baseball league began its season behind closed doors in April.

CNA file photo

The museum said it has received some 60 items from the public and has recorded 46 contacts, either online or by telephone, that are very likely to lead to donations of further items for the project.

As many Facebook users posted photos as replies to the Facebook post, the museum said it is working with other institutions, including Academia Sinica and the Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab, to launch an online platform where people will be able to submit images, video and audio materials later this month.

With the aim of being a “people’s museum,” it routinely updates its collections involving Taiwan’s modern history, including the 2014 Sunflower movement, where protesters opposing a service trade deal with China broke in and occupied the Legislature for over three weeks, the museum said.

It also took over a collection on elections held in Taiwan from Academia Historica, along with information concerning a collapsed building in Tainan after a magnitude 6.4 earthquake hit southern Taiwan on Feb. 6, 2016.

The museum, which opened in 2011, is currently running two exhibitions set to be concluded Friday, after which it will be closed to the public for an 11-month renovation period scheduled to be completed before October this year.

For people seeking to offer COVID-19-related items, they can contact the museum by sending an email to [email protected], it noted.

The National Museum of Taiwan History in Tainan (CNA file photo)