The National Museum of American History and the Anacostia Community Museum have recently launched coronavirus collection projects.
The American History Museum is taking a broad approach: Curators on its COVID-19 task force are putting together lists of objects they want to collect, ranging from handwritten grocery lists and letters from patients to personal protective equipment, test kits and ventilators.
"Obviously those are objects we will not collect until the pandemic has really wound down," said Alexandra Lord, the chair of the American History Museum's medicine and science division.
Object collection is on hold for another reason: The District of Columbia's stay-at-home order is still in effect and the Smithsonian museums and offices are all closed.
Curators at the National Museum of African American History and Culture plan to collect objects that tell the stories of black Americans during the pandemic.