Local museums during the pandemic. Restrictions, suffering and rebirth is an initiative by the anthropological museum network of Lazio DEMOS, of which the Museo della Terra is an integral part.

The main goal was to document and reestablish how the local community faced the recent pandemic through an anthropological lense. During the first few months of 2022, the nine museums of the DEMOS 9 network filmed several shorts depicting a series of fears, hopes and new forms of communication and socialization that emerged during this extraordinary event.

Experiencing the Covid19 pandemic, which was a real “total social fact”, has profoundly changed the local communities. Being confined at home due to lockdowns has caused social, economical and psychological distress. In the two years where Covid19 ravaged the world our routine and the way we relate to one another have drastically changed and have often been reshaped through the use of electronic media. The need for social distancing, isolation and online distance learning have set new boundaries and created new imbalances, exposing people to brand new ways to share spaces.

Healthcare services have faced new ethical dilemmas, especially when it comes to access to intensive care. Different methods to contain the virus came into conflict, as did the relationship between healthcare and economic goals. There was a rise in tension between different generations who were affected by the virus more or less heavily; but also between public and private workers, employees and freelancers, differently impacted by the economic consequences of the global shutdown.

The concepts of “pureness” and “danger” have been redefined. Xenophobia, a “fear of foreigners” (especially those of asian descent) greatly worsened during the first few months of 2020. The rise in apocalyptic visions of the future accompanied the spread of the virus. New customs have come to life, from singing together from windows and balconies to growing your own food. The pandemic has spread grief and loss and prevented people from physically relying on each other after the death of friends and family members. The news reported of lives being lived in complete solitude and isolation. The inability to say final goodbyes; the restrictions to attend funerals; the loss of shared activities; all led to deep traumas.

With this context in mind, the museums of DEMOS’ main goal was to start an ethnographic research into their respective communities to document and publish the new cultural practices and the ways in which the locals have processed and faced this experience through an anthropological lens. Each museum has worked on this project independently while following a series of shared premises.

The Museo della terra of Latera short film

The project was carried out thanks to the support of the Lazio Region for Archives, Museums and Libraries l.r. 24/2019 plan 2021.