As 2021 and our year of asking “How Does Cambridge Mend?” came to a close, we invited you to think about the objects that have symbolized the pandemic experience for you, your family and your community.

On December 16 we gathered via Zoom to share objects and discuss the importance of tangible symbols of the city’s pandemic experience. We were joined by Dr. Katherine Lennard, Professor of History and Material Culture at Boston University, who helped us explore the role of objects as conduits of our individual and communal histories. Dr. Lennard introduced us to the study of material culture, describing the way objects are used as sources in uncovering and sharing the stories of a particular time and place. Audience members then shared the objects they have saved from the past two years to help them remember their pandemic experiences, including a young girl’s painting, a basket woven from strips of The New York Times, and a map of Cambridge marking its owners’ successful mission to walk every street in the city during quarantine. Dr. Lennard led participants in a thoughtful and engaging discussion of the meaning and significance of these and other objects from the pandemic as we pondered how the things we have saved from this short period in our recent history will tell future observers about our individual and collective experiences.

You can watch the recording of this program below, or our YouTube channel. A special thank you to The Bridge Street Fund, an initiative of Mass Humanities, for their support of this program!