About the Project

The MaskArrayed explores the material, technological, and cultural aspects of the most iconic artifact of the COVID-19 crisis—the face mask. Historians of science, technology, medicine, and the environment unmask in short essays the complexity of a seemingly simple object and unveil its many layers and different usages in both material and non-material terms.

We observe new knowledge, technologies, and materials in the making, follow processes of adaption and invention, and ask how claims of knowledge and technological functionalities are constructed and defended. Striving for geographical breadth though not for universal claims, the project features essays about masks around the globe.

As the crisis requires us to adapt to a new world with the skills and knowledge we already possess, each author brings their specific research expertise and interests to meet the challenge. Our research is enriched by artist’s interventions and interviews with people who have interacted with the object of desire in very special ways.

The project is hosted by Department III (Artefacts, Action, Knowledge) of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG) and is inspired by the department’s unique perspective on on studying the history of science that considers the changing role of artifacts: texts, objects, and spaces. The idea emerged during the Department’s first virtual meeting necessitated by social distancing.

Contact us at public@mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de.