A new normal? Capturing and recording these unprecedented times

A new normal? Capturing and recording these unprecedented times

12 May 2020

We’re living through a historic time. A time which, just like the First and Second World Wars, we and the generations who follow us will remember, debate, study and commemorate.

Although we haven't been able to open as planned, we’re keen to gather peoples’ images, stories, mementos and more, so we can record these strange times and share them in the future.

We’d love your help with this and there are two different ways you can get involved.

A New Normal: Life Through a Lens

An empty path through a woodland with white flowers on either side

Over the next few weeks we’re running a photography competition to capture life during lockdown.

To take part, please send us one image that best captures your experience. It could be a picture you’ve taken over the last few weeks, or it could be something new. Your image could represent life at home, or it could be of something you've noticed when you're on your daily exercise. If you're a key worker, it could be an image from your journey to work or your workplace. Get your camera out and start capturing those moments that show how life has changed!

The competition is open to all ages and there are three different categories:

  • 15 years and under
  • 16-25 years
  • Over 25s

A winner from each category will see their images take pride of place in the middle of our 'Photo Album' gallery once we've opened (date tbc). The winners of the '16-25 years' and 'Over 25s' categories will also receive a £200 cash prize. The winner of the '15 years and under' category will receive a jam-packed goody bag from our gift shop. Runners up will also have their images displayed in our 'Photo Album' gallery next year.

How do I submit my image?

  • Your image should be sent as a jpeg or TIFF file
  • It should be 300dpi and around 4000/5000 pixels. Don’t have a digital camera? Don’t worry, most smart phones and tablets can take an image at this specification too!
  • Your image can be any format – still life, documentary, abstract or other
  • It must be accompanied by a title, short description (maximum 70 words), your full name and age category (15 and Under, 16 to 25 Years or Over 25)
  • If you're submitting an image that features a person or people it should be accompanied by a signed consent form - you can download one below
  • Please send your image (and consent form if appropriate) to our Engagement Programmes Team by 5pm on Tuesday 30 June
  • Please title your message ‘A New Normal: Life Through a Lens’
  • If your image is a large file please send it using wetransfer

Collecting for the future

An image of the government-issued Coronavirus letter and leaflet

Do you have other items you can put aside either at home or work, such as:

  • Diaries – either physical or digital (please don’t worry about confidentiality – we can restrict access for as long as required)
  • Formal records of organisations that have been at the sharp end of dealing with the pandemic – eg minutes and strategy documents
  • Business records such as publicity material, leaflets and posters relating to Covid-19 procedures and restrictions
  • Oral recordings and/or videos

We can’t take donations or deposits of materials like these at the moment, but will be able to once we’re open. Although we can't guarantee we'll take everything we're offered, we'd love to get an idea of what you have.

How do I submit my material?

  • If you have any physical materials you think would be of interest to us, please take a good quality image of them and send it to our Collections Team for consideration
  • If you have any digital materials you think would be of interest to us, please send copies of them to our Collections Team for consideration
  • If you're submitting anything that features a person or people it should be accompanied by a signed consent form - you can download one below
  • Please title your message ‘Life in Lockdown’
  • If you're sending lots or large images please use wetransfer

Keeping your materials safe

Wishing tree photographed in Victoria Park, Plymouth in April 2020

Here are some tips for keeping your materials safe and in a good condition:

  • Put them to one side is kept in a clean, dark, dry environment, free of pests and mould, which has a stable (not overly hot) temperature
  • If possible, put them in a box
  • Don’t use sellotape, rubber bands or metal paper clips to keep things together
  • If you’re keeping digital content, try and store the best possible version you have somewhere where it's safe and easily retrievable

The Box already contains many stories of people from prehistoric times to the present day. You can help us continue that work in these unprecedented times. We look forward to hearing from you.