Museum of London asks Londoners for Covid pandemic dreams

Nicola Davis
·2 min read
<span>Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

From tsunamis to perfectly formed egg sandwiches, vivid dreams appear to have become a familiar experience during the pandemic. Now these powerful, bizarre and sometimes unsettling thoughts and images are to be captured for posterity.

The Guardians of Sleep project by the Museum of London, working with the Museum of Dreams at Western University in Canada, is asking Londoners to get in touch to share the dreams they experienced as Covid-19 swept the world.

Foteini Aravani, the digital curator at the Museum of London, said the work is part of the museum’s efforts to tell the story of London through the pandemic.

“Sleep – and our sleep pattern – was one of the first things that shifted and changed, almost immediately after the lockdown happened,” she told the Guardian. “What I wanted to capture was the experience that possibly the pandemic is not only affecting our conscious lives, but also our subconscious, our dream life.”

Related: Welcome to my nightmare: researchers to investigate the strange world of Covid dreams

The team are asking Londoners who would like to share their pandemic dreams to get in touch by email by 15 January 2021, via info@museumofdreams.org, with interviews expected to be conducted in February via Zoom in either audio or video format.

“Historically and traditionally, museums have been collecting dreams, but not as first-hand experience … mostly [as] depictions and visualisations – paintings and drawings,” said Aravani.

“What we wanted is to open up our collection to Londoners and include the dreams in their own words in our collection, challenging a little bit the definition of what a museum object is,” she added.

The project will capture dreams without interpretation or analysis, but the testimonies will be made available for research. “I want to have the voice of the dreamers in our collection,” said Aravani.

Researchers around the world are working on projects to unpick how
Covid-19 is affecting people’s thoughts while they sleep.

Dr Valdas Noreika, a lecturer in psychology at Queen Mary University of London, who is working on one such study, welcomed the museum project.

“There is already preliminary evidence that the Covid pandemic altered our sleep patterns as well as dream contents. For instance, people report more anger and sadness words, and there is a frequent mention of contamination and cleanness in pandemic dreams,” he said.

“Londoners’ dreams collected during the pandemic will be a very valuable source of information for future historians, scientists and artists interested in how the pandemic affected not only our waking thoughts but also our innermost experiences
of dreams and nightmares.”