Artists, restorers, and staffers are helping out.

By Christopher Luu
Updated Mar 24, 2020 @ 6:00 pm
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Hospitals are facing dwindling medical supplies and according to Vulture, help is coming from unexpected places. The site notes that art museums, artists, set builders, museum staffers, and art restoration experts could have access to masks and gloves — and they're offering them up to medical professionals.

It started with one artist and an email system called LISTSERV, which provided the platform for sharing information with nurses and doctors. The medical staffers said that they did, indeed, need anything they could get and that's when the art world jumped in to help.

"I am not trying to find hospital-approved gear," a frontline worker wrote on a medical LISTSERV. "We are beyond that. I'm trying to find survival gear that keeps us working and not sick."

Robert Alexander/Getty Images

In the first 24 hours, textile artist Shabd Simon-Alexander set up a Google document and had "600 masks, most of them N95s," transferred to medical workers in New York City. The group even got a name: the Mask Crusaders.

Artists and museum staffers offered up "N95s, surgical masks, gloves, Tyvek protective suits, and shoe covers." NYC's Museum of Arts and Design and Whitney Museum joined in and the crusade even caught the attention of dentists and tattoo artists, who also started to donate. Simon-Alexander has even helped organizers in other cities, such as Chicago; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; and L.A., set up their own donation systems.

"I'm so proud to see people taking care of each other, and it's very beautiful and hopeful," Simon-Alexander told Vulture. "I don't want to downplay that. But at the same time I find it really frustrating that the work of fixing this crisis is left to the people most affected by it."

She adds that her efforts can't solve the problem and that eventually, the powers that be may have to step in. "We can't mutual-aid our way out of this entirely," she finished. "At some point, the government is going to have to step up."

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