top of page


Like wars, pandemics occur with regularity throughout history. But while the collective remembrance of wars draws on a stock repertoire of rituals and symbols, the same is not true of pandemics. For example, despite killing in excess of 50 million people globally, there are no contemporary memorials to the 1918-1919 “Spanish” influenza pandemic (the carved Maori cenotaph pictured here at Te Koura Pa on the Aupouri Peninsula of Northland, New Zealand, is a rare exception). Nor is there currently a prominent UK public memorial to the victims of HIV/AIDS. 

By contrast, there appears to be little danger of the coronavirus pandemic being forgotten. From the National Covid Memorial Wall on the Albert Embankment emblazoned with 180,000 hearts – one for every British victim of the pandemic – to the on-line book of remembrance and proposal for a new portico at St Paul’s Cathedral, schemes and dreams for commemorating the pandemic are well-advanced. Covid-19 has also generated thousands of material objects, from face masks to lateral flow test kits to social distancing signage. And the health and other impacts of Covid-19 have been extensively documented by print and digital media. 

But just as the hearts on the Albert Embankment are beginning to fade so, eventually, will our memories of Covid-19—hence the importance of preserving these memories for future generations. 

The purpose of this website is to document some of these memento mori of the pandemic. On this site, you will find links to museum collections containing important artefacts from the pandemic, such as the syringe used to administer the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine to Margaret Keenan, the first person in Britain to be vaccinated against the coronavrius. And you will find links to on-going memorialisation projects such as Forest of Memories, which aims to plant a tree for every life lost in the UK to Covid-19. 

You will also find summaries of a series of workshops hosted jointly by City, University of London’s Department of Journalism and the Science Museum on the theme of “Commemorating Covid, Remembering Pandemics”. 

Convened in the spring and autumn of 2022 and funded by the Higher Education Innovation Fund, these workshops brought together medical historians, memory studies scholars, museum curators, digital journalists and students for wide-ranging discussions on the pandemic’s cultural legacies. 

Whose stories and memories of the pandemic should we be preserving and what objects should we be collecting? How can artists, architects, curators and medical historians help inscribe the pandemic in collective memory? And how can we ensure that the voices and experiences of bereaved groups from across the social, ethnic and religious spectrum are documented and properly represented? 

In an influential essay published at the height of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the novelist and activist Arundhati Roy argued that “historically, pandemics have forced people to break with the past and imagine their world anew”. Describing Covid-19 as a “portal”, Roy suggested we could either choose to walk through the gateway “dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred” with us, or we could walk though it “lightly… ready to imagine another world”. 

This website is a portal onto that emergent world. 

Pandemic window_Whitechapel.jpeg

Influenza pandemic window at the Church of St Augustine with St Phillip, Whitechapel.

bottom of page