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Coronavirus: Keeping history alive in Kingston during these tough times

Click to play video: 'Making every effort to keep history alive during Covid-19 times' Making every effort to keep history alive during Covid-19 times
WATCH: COVID-19 has taken it's toll on numerous activities and culture and history have not been spared – Apr 22, 2020

COVID-19 has taken its toll on numerous activities in Kinston, Ont., and culture and history are no exception.

The City of Kingston owns and operates two museums, one normally would have opened by now. And while the PumpHouse is closed municipal officials are making every effort to make sure the community can still access what they have to offer.

READ MORE: Kingston political, academic, economic forces team up to guide organizations through COVID-19

Jennifer Campbell, Kingston’s Cultural Heritage Manager, says they are inviting locals to visit online instead.

“We always love to welcome people to our doors, we love seeing people and sharing our history with them. But we can’t do that face to face right now so we’re trying to rise to that challenge.”

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Click to play video: 'Kingston city council support some relaxed COVID-19 restrictions' Kingston city council support some relaxed COVID-19 restrictions
Kingston city council support some relaxed COVID-19 restrictions – Apr 22, 2020

Campbell says even in this lockdown situation people can still enjoy what’s behind the walls of the Ontario Street landmark (PumpHouse). In fact, a new exhibit will be unveiled online over the next few days called “Collecting Histories,” a look at the city’s civic collection.

“And really asking questions about what kinds of things do we collect and why do we collect them. Showing some things that maybe we don’t always share that don’t always get out of the vault so to speak. But really asking questions about, why do we have a collection and what is it meant to do for us,” Campbell says.

Living in lockdown, with businesses, malls, sports facilities and parks closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus, is something few people have ever encountered. As the keepers of history, Campbell says finding a way to document what people are going through, what Kingston is going through, to re-tell the COVID-19 story to future generations is a key concern.

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READ MORE: 2 new cases of COVID-19 in Kingston region, total now 59

“It’s very difficult when you’re living history to think about the things you need to tell that story but that’s really what museums are tasked to do. So we’re hoping we can work with the community to think about what are the histories, what are the stories and how do we best capture them, document them so that we can share them in the future.”

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The City also owns and operates the MacLachlan Woodworking Museum. Campbell says it usually opens to the public in early May, however that won’t be the case this year as coronavirus safety measures continue.

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