‘New Family’ sewing machine (model 12/12K), manufactured by the Singer Manufacturing Company, 1888. Mus. no T.1600-2017
‘New Family’ sewing machine (model 12/12K), manufactured by the Singer Manufacturing Company, 1888. Mus. no T.1600-2017  ©

Victoria and Albert Museum 

The V&A is the world’s leading museum of art and design, housing a permanent collection of over 2.3 million objects that span over 5,000 years of human creativity. The Museum holds many of the UK's national collections and houses one of the most comprehensive and important collections of Chinese art outside East Asia, with pieces dating from 3000 BC to the present day. The V&A continues to work regularly in China, most recently opening Balenciaga at the China National Silk Museum, in Hangzhou. In December, it will present Fashioned from Nature as part of an ongoing partnership with Design Society, in Shenzhen. 

Pandemic Objects is an editorial project that compiles and reflects on objects that have taken on new meaning and purpose during the coronavirus outbreak. During times of pandemic, a host of everyday often-overlooked ‘objects’ (in the widest possible sense of the term) are suddenly charged with new urgency. Toilet paper becomes a symbol of public panic, a forehead thermometer a tool for social control, convention centres become hospitals, while parks become contested public commodities. By compiling these objects and reflecting on their changing purpose and meaning, this space aims to paint a unique picture of the pandemic and the pivotal role objects play within it. 

Brendan Cormier is the curator of Pandemic Objects. “As part of the series, I selected these three different objects to highlight because they represent the variety of our collections as well as the variety in ways we can see the pandemic changing the nature and use of objects. The sewing machine highlights the importance of having access to tools for creativity and making; the chair is an example of how everyday objects are being used in new and surprising ways; and the ‘backstage’ refers to the wider economy of arts workers whose livelihoods have been imperiled by the pandemic.” 

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