HistoryMiami Museum needs the public’s help documenting 2020

Most people want to forget just about everything from 2020, but HistoryMiami Museum wants to remember it all.

That’s why on Dec. 30, 2020, the Smithsonian Affiliate, located in Downtown Miami, issued a communitywide call to Miamians to share stories and items that capture their experiences of 2020.

The project, “Collecting 2020,” will focus on the events that made this year unforgettable, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the protests for racial justice, and local and national elections. The initiative aims to preserve a record of life in Miami through community submissions that highlight how Miamians have been affected by and responded to these major events.

“The events of this year are historic moments that will never be forgotten,” said Jorge Zamanillo, executive director of HistoryMiami Museum. “Our museum is committed to this collaborative effort to document the history of Miami and Miamians during this unheralded year.”

Collecting 2020 is underway with headline-making items such as the Grim Reaper costume worn by attorney Daniel Uhlfelder, whose claim to fame was walking public beaches over the summer, attempting to warn people of the dangers of public gatherings amid COVID-19. HistoryMiami also secured a Miami HEAT jersey emblazoned with “Black Lives Matter,” and a collection of materials from national and local political races, which resulted in the history-making election of Miami-Dade County’s first female mayor.

As part of its longstanding Miami Stories project, the museum also is asking the public to contribute written and video stories related to the events of 2020. Now over a decade old, Miami Stories collects stories about Miami’s past, present, and future. These stories are added to the museum’s archive, and shared online and with local media outlets.

“At HistoryMiami Museum, we value everyone’s story,” said Michael Knoll, director of Curatorial Affairs and chief curator. “Partnering with the community on this initiative is of paramount importance to preserving and sharing our city’s stories, especially with future generations.”

Submissions of items and stories can be made through the museum’s website (https://www.historymiami.org/collecting2020.) No dropoffs or unsolicited donations through mail or in person will be accepted.

Stories and materials collected through this project will be added to the organization’s permanent collection. The museum collects, preserves, and provides access to items that document the history of the Miami region.

The institution’s Archives & Research Center includes more than 2 million images, along with maps, architectural records, and more. Its object collection houses more than 30,000 items, mostly from the 20th Century, and an additional 550 cubic feet of archaeological material. The museum will make the submitted stories and donated items accessible through its research center, serving researchers and the general public for generations to come.

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