The Museum of London announced a project on Thursday to collect the dreams of Londoners during the coronavirus pandemic as a way to document the impact of the crisis.

The lives of inhabitants of the British capital have changed “not just in the day to day” because of the pandemic, but also “in relation to how we sleep and dream”, the museum said.

The project, dubbed “Guardians of Sleep”, will look to collect the dreams in the form of oral histories.

It will also explore what insight dreams might offer into mental health and ways of coping with external stresses, especially in times of crisis.

According to a King’s College London/Ipsos MORI survey in June, the global Covid-19 crisis can trouble the mind not just during waking hours but also during sleep.

The Museum of London is launching the initiative in partnership with the Museum of Dreams based at Western University in Canada.

Foteini Aravani, digital curator at the Museum of London, said the recording of dreams would allow it not only to “document a key shared experience from the pandemic” but also to stretch the definition of a “museum object”.

“Traditionally, when museums have collected dreams it has been in the form of artistic impression, for example, paintings or drawings influenced by the events. However, this can often dissociate the dream from the dreamer,” she said.

“We will collect dreams as first-person oral histories with the aim to provide a more emotional and personal narrative of this time for future generations,” she added.

Sharon Sliwinski, creator of the Museum of Dreams, said the research with the museum “aims to provide a rich resource for further understanding the significance of dream-life as a mechanism for working through social conflict”.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2020

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