2020 Collection Reflections

December 23rd, 2020

By John Marks, Curator of Collections

It’s hard to believe 2020 is almost over. As the pandemic continues, “over” may be just a chronological idea, but I’ll take what I can get.

From a curatorial perspective, this wasn’t such a bad year. We still put up several new exhibits, and continued to post photographs on Facebook. Lack of in-person contact forced us to pivot (2020 word of the year here at the museum) and try new things. We did more videos for ourselves and other organizations. In doing so, we reached more people in more places than before.

We were closed to the public from mid-March until early July but we still had a good year in terms of artifact donations. (We quarantine incoming objects for a time before cataloging them and putting them with other items.) Rather than sharing a list, I will highlight just a few things that we received.

African American Man & Boy With Bicycle Helmets

Floud, left, and Michael Alexander at Courtyard Apartments, late 1980s

Professional photographer Jan Regan donated a box of prints and slides she took from  the 1980s to the 2000s. After a few years of posting 1940s and 50s photos to Facebook, one viewer asked us, “I grew up in the 1990s, do you have photos from my childhood?” This donation begins to fill a large gap in our collection. The photos include many people of color, another area we want to strengthen.

Steve Mahan donated two wooden lacrosse sticks. He played indoor lacrosse at the Armory, and when Native American teams came to Geneva they sold sticks they had made. While Geneva is known for lacrosse, these were the first artifacts associated with the old teams.

Young Man Posing With Lacrosse Sticke

Steve Mahan, late 1940s

Dan and Lorinda Weinstock brought in their son’s old Finger Lakes Times carrier bag. Paper carrier bags became history without most of us realizing it. Boys and girls used to deliver the paper, then it became an adult job, and now the Finger Lakes Times is mailed to homes.

 Each year brings things we didn’t know we needed but are delighted to receive. However, we still have a wish list. We welcome objects, stories, and photos about the coronavirus pandemic. Photos might be of your home/ school office setup, a socially distanced 2020 graduation, or screenshots of worship or other in-person activities that moved online. Objects include Class of 2020 senior signs, and locally-made or personalized masks.

Yellow Newspaper Carrier Bag Finger Lakes Times

Finger Lakes Times bag used 1989-1993

We always welcome more community photos. The 2010s will be history sooner than we think. Do you have photos of parades, businesses, sports teams, or your neighborhood? We accept digital images, or can scan prints.  We want to tell all Geneva stories but we can only work with what we have.

Thank you to all those who offered us artifacts and archival material in 2020. We look forward to hearing from more of you in 2021!

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