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Masks — Making Their Marks in Our Museums!

In addition to protection, many museums all over the world have found more creative purposes for our masks. Museums have been using masks as a medium to express art and the historically significant periods during the pandemic. In fact, at the Royal Ontario Museum, Alexandra Palmer and several other curators have been creating masks out of artifacts from COVID-19 to commemorate this event and tell the stories that are currently unfolding during this time.

Alexandra Palmer gushed about masks being an amazing form of expression. Especially when communicating ideas and showing support to causes such as the Black Lives Matter Movement. (The National via Youtube)

“This idea of text on the masks...it’s sort of the new T-shirt of wearing who you are on your sleeve and making it very visible,”

- Palmer, a curator at the ROM

This concept is rather interesting, as it provides such a stark contrast to earlier impressions of masks— that being concealing human emotions, and maintaining anonymity. In a way, now it has been a medium that is helping to connect people and allowing them to join together for a unified cause.

Masks also serve as great reminders of our history and express how people across the world have been impacted by the pandemic. Fahmida Suleman, the Islamic expert at the Royal Ontario Museum, has taken an initiative to look into the masks found in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Central Asia, and Jordan.

Suleman emphasized the positive messages behind some of the masks they have come across; this mask, in particular, gives a gentle and hopeful reminder saying: “this too shall pass.” (The National via Youtube)

These checkered masks in the COVID-19 collection pay tribute to Sherrie Kearney, owner of the Maritime Tartan Company, who back in April created tartan masks for fundraising. She and her company are to be commended for not only producing more masks that could help prevent the spread of COVID-19 but has also raised $10,000 for local food banks! (The National via Youtube)

Masks are not only making their mark in museums but even in fashion — which is no surprise because of another underlying message beneath these colourful, beautifully hand-crafted masks. (The National via Youtube)

Despite having to adjust to such a bizarre version of ‘normal,’ by expressing artistic ideas and emotions into such small fabrics, we’re owning our situation in the ways that we currently know how to. It is empowering and fascinating — definitely qualities that will draw attention to our past in the future. We are proving that even in the grimmest of circumstances, human emotion, spirit, and expression will never cease to shine through.


Chang, A. (2020, September 8). Royal Ontario Museum Collecting Masks to Tell Covid-19

Pandemic Story. Retrieved September 14, 2020, from,


Trebay, G. (2020, May 15). The Hidden Language of Masks. Retrieved September 14, 2020,

from, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/15/style/the-hidden-language-of-masks-


Featured image is courtesy of The National via Youtube

Article Author: Katrina Artes

Article Editors: Stephanie Sahadeo, Valerie Shirobokov