Speakers spotlight: Manon Parry and Hugo Schalkwijk

Recreating Heritage to Enrich Histories: The AIDS History Digital Scrapbook Project

Medical heritage relating to recent history is vulnerable to destruction due to the undervaluation of its significance in medical settings, where resources are focused on contemporary health challenges rather than the preservation of the recent past. In the last five years, for example, a scrapbook of staff and patient images, ephemera, and personal memories documenting the activities in first AIDS ward in the Netherlands has been lost, presumed destroyed. Parry and Schalkwijk, with funding from the Amsterdam Center for Heritage and Identity, are recreating/reinventing this lost object, as an experiment in blending archival and artistic activities and digital tools to diversify the perspectives collected and exhibited in museums. The scrapbook incorporates personal photographs and ephemera, documents and photographs from the archives of Dutch hospitals with designated AIDS wards, radio and television broadcasts, and the reflections of people who worked there in the 1980s and 1990s, or who were treated there, as well as others who visited friends or family members. The project will also grow through the use of social media to solicit online submissions to the scrapbook.

In this presentation the presenters will demonstrate the Digital Scrapbook and discuss their experiences researching, collecting, and exhibiting AIDS Histories in the Netherlands.

The presenters are part of a wider Dutch effort to expand museum and archival collecting of LGBT history in general, and are developing various activities to expand the public history of AIDS as part of their international consortium on “Museums, Medicine & Society.” This presentation connects to the ALMS conference theme of Barriers, with the focus on the preservation of vulnerable objects and images, and Margins, as we will consider the lessons our project offers for exhibiting histories of marginalized groups whose archives and objects may not have been collected. Combining social and medical history, the project also addresses Connections, as we aim to broaden the scope of medical history and bring together patient and practitioner communities.

“Queering the Collections” initiative website: http://www.ihlia.nl/queering/

Manon and Hugo will be speaking on day 2 of the conference

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