If the anxiety of the COVID-19 pandemic sees you drifting off into a disconcerting new world of strange dreams at night, the Museum of London wants to hear from you. It has launched a research project known as ‘Guardians of Sleep,’ which involves compiling the dreams of Londoners during the coronavirus pandemic as part of its Collecting COVID initiative.

According to a survey conducted by King’s College London and Ipsos MORI in June 2020, the anxiety, stress and worry brought on by the global crisis is not limited to daytime hours, but has also affected our sleep and our dreaming minds. In response, the Museum of London, in partnership with the Museum of Dreams based at Western University in Canada, is launching a research-based project seeking to collect the dreams of Londoners by recording testimonies of dreams from the pandemic.

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The pandemic has affected our sleep and dreaming minds ©Milkovasa/Shutterstock

The Guardians of Sleep project will be the first time that dreams as raw encounters and personal testimonies will be collected by a museum. The project team aims to collect the dreams in the form of oral histories as part of the museum’s ongoing Collecting COVID project, but also to explore what insight dreams might offer into mental health and ways of coping with external stresses, especially in times of crisis.

“Collecting Londoners’ dreams in their own words not only allows us to document a key shared experience from the pandemic but also helps stretch the definition of a ‘museum object’, by adding dreams as raw encounters and personal testimonies to our permanent London Collection for the very first time," says Foteini Aravani, digital curator at the Museum of London.

The exterior of the Museum of London in England
The Museum of London is compiling the dreams of Londoners © Will Jones/Lonely Planet

"Traditionally, when museums have collected dreams, it has been in the form of artistic impression, for example, paintings or drawings influenced by the events. However, this can often dissociate the dream from the dreamer. Instead, as part of Collecting COVID, we will collect dreams as first-person oral histories with the aim to provide a more emotional and personal narrative of this time for future generations.”

The museum is asking Londoners to register their interest in taking part in the project by 15 January 2021, by emailing info@museumofdreams.org or visiting the museum's website here.

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