Library art exhibit captures life in the pandemic

Published: Oct. 9, 2020 at 5:39 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A new art exhibit inside the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library is capturing a moment in time.

They’ve collected images and stories from the past several months to show how the community is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The exhibit is broken up into six categories; Isolated Connections, Health Matters, Then and Now 1918 vs 2020, Until Further Notice, Remembering and Get Off the Bench.

The once bare walls inside Alice C. Sabatini Gallery now tell a pandemic story.

Local History Librarian and co-curator of the exhibit, Donna Rae Pearson said, “A Moment in Time: Our Local Response to a Global Crisis, is just an examination of what has happened since the first shutdown in March.”

She said the goal is to connect the community through shared experiences.

“I wanted us to take a moment to basically reflect," Pearson continued saying, "So, I asked people to send in their images, their stories, their videos, their clothes, just about anything to show what has been going on.”

Each submission is a glimpse into the impacts of this moment in time.

One story that stood out involved the toilet paper shortage.

Pearson said when one man ran out and the store shelves were empty, he decided to order some toilet paper online. Turns out that product was shipping from China, and ended up taking four months for that toilet paper to get to Topeka.

Several people also submitted items for the portion called, ‘Get Off the Bench’ dedicated to social justice initiatives.

“It’s about wanting to participate and thinking about making those kind of commitments during this time period to get out in public, to show your support or opposition to different sides of the conversations that are going on right now,” said Pearson.

Another story that sticks out in Pearson’s mind is one of a celebration of life.

“A woman sent in this story of her 90 year old mother who passed," she continued saying, "She didn’t actually have COVID, but the stress and strain of trying to commemorate this person during this time period is reflected in that story.”

Pearson said she hopes each person who visits the exhibit takes a moment to walk in someone else’s shoes.

“I don’t think there’s any way you can deny right now, this will be history and what better time to get it? Instead of trying to wait until that protest sign has been thrown away or those images are lost. The only way you can get this kind of information is in the moment," she said.

The ‘A Moment in Time: Our Local Response to a Global Crisis’ exhibit will be on display through November 29th.

The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Masks are required inside the building.

The library will continue to add to this exhibit. If you have a story or symbol you’d like to be featured, email or

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