AIDS Objects 2016-2018

The AIDS pandemic has generated a vast amount of historical and cultural material and yet museums tend to collect only a very limited range of items for permanent preservation and for reuse in exhibitions. Historically significant objects and images have been lost or destroyed – in grief, to protect the privacy of the deceased, or because their value for museums and archives is not well understood. As a result, museum collections do not include a broad enough range of objects to document and exhibit the diverse and complex histories of AIDS. In conjunction with the International AIDS Society conference in Amsterdam in July 2018, the AIDS Objects team based at the University of Amsterdam is undertaking a series of projects.

AIDS Objects: Collecting the Material Culture of HIV and AIDS, 23-27 July 2018

The AIDS Objects team is asking attendees to the International AIDS Society meeting in 2018 to share their ideas for objects that tell stories – from personal experiences of the impact of HIV to important moments in the global response. Do you own something that sparks a memory, comes from an activity that should be remembered, or represents a person whose story should be shared? Or do you know of something that should be collected and preserved before it is lost or destroyed? The objects could be as simple as a personal memento, a handwritten note, or an everyday item that took on new significance because of how it was used.

We are especially interested in objects that can be used to illustrate perspectives that are underrepresented in standard histories of the pandemic. Tweet #IAS2018 #AIDSObjects or direct message @ManonParry1 with your ideas, photos welcome.


Voices of the Epidemic, 23-29 July 2018

Film screening on rotation daily at the Amsterdam Museum and showing at the Global Village of the IAS conference 11-12:00 on Thursday 26 July with introduction by researcher Hugo Schalkwijk.

It has been more than thirty years since people were first diagnosed with AIDS in the Netherlands. Since then, we have learnt how to prevent the spread of HIV and to prolong the lives of those who are HIV positive. Yet as the early years of crisis fade from memory, we face a new era of infection, with ongoing inequalities that put some at higher risk of contracting the virus, and which prevent others from accessing affordable care. A new film, Voices of the Epidemic, asks people who have been involved since the very beginning to reflect on their experiences and the lessons we still need to learn from the history of HIV and AIDS.

Approx. 25 minutes long, in Dutch with English subtitles. Funded by the Amsterdam School for Historical Studies and the Amsterdam Centre for Heritage and Identity at the University of Amsterdam, and the Public Health Service of Amsterdam.

Production team: Manon S. Parry (University of Amsterdam), Hugo Schalkwijk (Oude Wasgoed) and Paul de Jong, Marlinde Venema and Machiel Spruijt (Jaar en Dag Media)


Fighting, Caring, Grieving, Surviving – AIDS in the Netherlands

A digital reinterpretation of a lost object – a scrapbook of staff and patient images, ephemera, and personal memories documenting the activities in the Netherlands’ first AIDS ward at the OLVG. The scrapbook has been lost and is presumed destroyed. Please contact us if you know where it might be or have anything similar from your own institution or organisation. A pop-up exhibition based on the scrapbook research is on display in the Amsterdam Pavilion at the Global Village of the International AIDS Society conference, 23-27 July 2018.

SCRAPBOOK: Fighting, Caring, Grieving, Surviving – AIDS in the Netherlands