Birmingham Museums is launching a new collecting project to capture the stories and experiences of Birmingham people who are living through this historic moment during the coronavirus pandemic, so future generations can hear how the country came together to save lives.

The Life on Lockdown project, launching today (Thursday 21 May), will run over the coming months to document the ongoing changes and experiences before they’re gone.

Our lives have been turned upside down as streets have emptied, shops and schools have closed, and families are separated. At the same time, many people are remembering what we value in our lives, such as finding new ways to connect with friends, families and neighbours; celebrating shared events such as Easter, Ramadan or VE Day while apart; and taking a moment to think about our key workers and those we have lost during this pandemic.

At Birmingham Museums, the team recognise the importance of capturing these stories, and want to hear how local people are living through this unique moment in history by collecting images and voice recordings of life under lockdown.

Share your images of lockdown

Through this people are being asked to notice and document what changes the pandemic is having including what they can see in streets, shops and across their communities. And also, some of the more challenging times, such as only being able to see loved ones through a window or being a keyworker during this time.

There are more details about how to share your photos and stories here www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/blog/posts/life-on-lockdown-collecting-the-birmingham-story.

Record and share your stories

The second way to get involved is to start recording stories, whether that’s a conversation with a family member about their experience, or personal accounts, so in ten- or twenty-years’ time people will be able to hear first-hand what happened during this crisis from the people who lived through it.

As part of Birmingham’s museum collection, oral histories, which are recorded interviews about someone’s past experience, are an important way to share stories. You can find some of the recordings from the collection at https://soundcloud.com/birminghammuseums, where you can listen to people talking about everything from experiences of post-war migration to the UK to living in Birmingham during the First World War.

Birmingham Museums has put together some handy tips to help people to record their own oral histories during lockdown on the blog.

Andrew Fowles, Head of Learning and Access at Birmingham Museums Trust said: “Once lockdown has ended and life starts to return slowly to normality, a lot of these changes we are experiencing will be lost. We want to capture them so we can build a picture of what the people of Birmingham were doing during this time to share with future generations.

“Most of us have never experienced anything like this and although our museum doors are closed, this challenging time has encouraged us to think differently and reach out to the people of Birmingham. We are looking forward to hearing your stories and building a picture of this time together.”

Find out more about the Life on Lockdown project at www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/blog/posts/life-on-lockdown-collecting-the-birmingham-story.