A Digital Community Exhibition – July 2020
Together with the rest of the UK, Wycombe Museum went into lockdown on 23 March due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Museum staff worked from home to begin with, then most were furloughed. Keeping in touch with our volunteers, one of them suggested we do an exhibition of local experiences of lockdown. This became possible with funding from Arts Council England, and we appealed for photos of lockdown through social media.
The images we received divided into sections, reflecting the main themes of lockdown:
- Staying Home
- Supporting the NHS
- Making and Growing
- Connecting Remotely
- Once a Day Outdoors
- Coming Together Safely
- Lifting Lockdown
Section 1 – Staying Home
The Government told us to Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives. During full lockdown, between 23 March and 11 May, we were all only allowed to leave home for limited reasons: shopping for essentials, seeking medical assistance, helping a vulnerable person and once a day for exercise. The photographs in this section show some of the activities that became home-based, including school and work. It also shows some views of very quiet roads in Wycombe district.
Section 2 – Supporting the NHS
Staying at home protected the NHS from being overwhelmed as well as protecting individuals. The photographs in this section show some of the other ways in which people supported the NHS.
Section 3 – Making and Growing
Art, crafts, gardening and baking helped many of us pass the time spent at home. These photos show examples of lockdown creativity from giant jigsaws to miniature houses.
Section 4 – Connecting Remotely
Online meetings became the main way of socialising for many of us. For those not online, the phone became more important than ever. One of our volunteers told us she was working her way through her address book, connecting with people she hadn’t spoken to in 10 years or more. These photos show just a few of the ways we connected remotely.
Section 5 – Once a Day Outdoors
During full lockdown we could only go outdoors for exercise once per day. As individuals, our walks and horizons were now very limited, but these photos show a range of views and scenes from across Wycombe district.
Section 6 – Coming Together Safely
Mothers’ Day, Easter and Eid were all celebrated remotely this year, as was the 75th anniversary of VE Day, and a large number of birthdays. As lockdown lifted slightly, many of us could come together at a safe distance for celebrations and for a peaceful and safe Black Lives Matter protest in Marlow.
Section 7 – Lifting Lockdown
Lockdown restrictions began to be lifted in stages from 11 May. Gradually, we were able to meet with other households. Some school year groups returned in early June, and pubs and hairdressers opened from 4 July. Wycombe Museum remains closed for the rest of summer 2020 as social distancing is not possible in our historic building, but our gardens are open on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays throughout the summer.
The Arts Council England funding has also enabled us to open a pop-up display in Eden shopping centre for summer 2020.