Few families have been left untouched by disease, whether it's COVID-19 or a pandemic in the past. At 32, my own grandmother perished during the Influenza Pandemic of 1918. Stories of how she left six young children behind, including my mother, remain cautionary tales to this day. Undoubtedly, many families have stories such as these.
Aside from oral histories, pandemics leave an educational opportunity in their wake. Through statistical research, inspiring stories and new discoveries, we can learn from the past and move forward with more accurate information. Just how much the current pandemic will change our future remains to be seen. Hopefully, we will find ways to better protect ourselves.
We've gathered several inspiring exhibits and helpful films that offer a chance to consider outbreaks from the past and present.
Films on Mechanics' Institute Library's Kanopy Streaming Service - free with your MI library card. (To get started, go to the MI homepage, choose Books and More, Articles and Online Resources, and locate Kanopy from the alphabetical list. Follow the prompts to create your own account.):
Outbreak! Contagion! The Next Pandemic!: Episode 24 of the Great Courses - An Introduction to Infectious Diseases
Returning to the Workplace: Creating a Safe and Healthy Environment - working safely in the age of COVID-19 environment.
Plagued - a four-part series that investigates the relationship between history, destiny and disease.
Epidemiology of Plague - Episode 2 of The Black Death. Explore the medical understanding of plague, as seen in the 6th century Plague of Justinian, the Black Death of the 1300s, and the 19th-century third Pandemic.
Inspiring Virtual Museum Exhibits:
The Ormond Art Museum and Gallery - As we socially distance, two online art exhibits offer hope for a stronger sense of community.
Museums of Quarantine - Street museums in LA and elsewhere feature pandemic-inspired artwork.
Art in a Time of Quarantine Virtual Youth Arts Exhibit - Awe-inspiring works from students at Krannert Art Museum in Illinois.
Beyond Statistics: Living in a Pandemic - A fascinating look at New York City's Tenement Museum in a time when the link between cleanliness and sickness was only beginning to emerge.
Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World - Extensive Smithsonian exhibit demonstrating that the saying, 'we are all connected' wasn't just a hippie mantra of the 1960s--it is actually based in scientific fact.
Watching Hands: Artists Respond to Keeping Well - The human hand is truly a work of art and there is much to admire here in the simple act of handwashing.