Royal Ontario Museum immortalizes face masks

A new exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum displays dozens of masks from around the world—testaments to human ingenuity in the face of crisis

The pandemic carried a bewildering sense of living out history as it was unfolding, and now we have a museum exhibit to prove it. The Royal Ontario Museum is mounting a new exhibit of face masks from around the world, highlighting how these utilitarian objects transformed into facial billboards for creativity, beauty and social statement. Canada was still mired in the earliest lockdown when curators began collecting masks for posterity.

“These objects attest to the power of artistic ingenuity and human creativity in the face of a global crisis,” the museum says of the more than 60 examples, including designs from India and Toronto, shown off by Kristiina Lahde, a collection technician. There’s a flicker of hope here, too: immortalizing this strange moment feels like moving it from the still-­unfolding category of our everyday lives and into a chapter of our past.

This exhibition starts on Sept. 18, 2021 and goes on until Feb. 22, 2022 at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

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