Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) unveils an exquisite selection of masks currently on showcase in Clothing the Pandemic: A Virtual Exhibition of COVID-19 Face Masks from Around the World. Organised by the International Committee ICOM for the Museums and Collections of Costume, Fashion and Textiles (ICOM Costume), this virtual exhibition is an international collaboration among numerous museum curators who have collected face masks for their institutions to document the material culture of the pandemic during 2020–2021.
As Singapore’s National Museum of Asian Antiquities and Decorative Art and the only Singapore representative in the international roster, ACM stands among the diverse museums participating in this project, including the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum (United Kingdom), the Museo Kordilyera (Philippines), and the Théodore Monod African Art Museum (Senegal).
Over 100 masks have been curated into six major themes: Art & Intervention; Politics & Protest; Solidarity & Communities; Body & Spirit; Innovation & Sustainability; and Fashion & Pop Culture. The public will be able to experience face masks in unexpected ways: as expressions of joy, heroism, activism, cultural pride, and as symbols of hope and unity. In the ACM contribution, visitors can look forward to viewing an intricate goldfish mask by Singapore Peranakan Chinese designer Raymond Wong, as well as an elaborate “Butterfly People” mask by Indian designer Rahul Mishra.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of most (if not all) international museums in response to public safety and health measures. The exhibition is a way for museums to remain connected to their audiences locally and abroad. The face mask – which has become the iconic symbol of the pandemic – represents humanity’s resilience, community, and unity during this global tragedy.
At its core, this virtual exhibition highlights the importance of museum collections as sources of inspiration that can embrace current events and celebrate contemporary fashion and design. Freely accessible to visitors around the world, the exhibition presents masks that document key moments of contemporary history and capture the united global challenge against the virus, which will resonate for years to come.
Visit the exhibition at www.clothingthepandemic.museum, on show till December 2022. For more information on ACM, please visit www.acm.org.sg | @acm_sg | facebook.com/asiancivilisationsmuseum. All images courtesy of the Asian Civilisations Museum.
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