Johnson County Museum recognized for its exhibits cataloging COVID-19’s impact on JoCo


LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Johnson County Museum earlier this year received an award from the Kansas Museum Association for its efforts to collect and showcase the local community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Kansas Museum Association recognized the Johnson County Museum with an Award of Excellence for its project, “Collect, Curate, Partner, Serve: Johnson County Museum’s Response to COVID-19,” which examines the pandemic’s impact on Johnson County and the community’s response to it.

The association gave this award during its virtual luncheon last month.

“In the throes of a pandemic with the doors of the museum closed to the public, the curators and I asked ourselves one question: How can the museum help our community?” said Mary McMurray, director of the Johnson County Museum.

“Answering that question required launching and promoting a collecting initiative, creating and installing a temporary exhibition in six weeks, and partnering with internal and external partners to curate a complementary community art exhibition that calls viewers to reflect, show resilience and rebuild,” she said.

Beginning in March, the museum began collecting local stories and data on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Curators asked the public to answer questions and share personal stories and ideas for photographs, objects and documents that would represent this time period.

The museum received more than 40 submissions to the questionnaire and collected items from Johnson County government offices, medical innovations, homemade masks and items related to milestones altered by the pandemic, like high school graduations.

The museum, which is housed at the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center, will continue collecting stories and items in order to “give the community time to reflect on the stories and artifacts that will help future generations of curators tell the story of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Johnson County and the region,” museum staff reported.