Makeshift memorial to Marathon bombing victims to be taken down, moved to city archives

For more than two months, Copley Square has been blanketed with the physical markers of grief and remembrance: stuffed animals, flowers, crosses, photographs, candles, dozens of pairs of running shoes. For those who pass by the square, this makeshift memorial to the Boston Marathon bombing victims remains a stirring testament to the strength of the city and its people.

But now has come the time for the temporary memorial to be taken down, Mayor Thomas M. Menino said in a letter to survivors and victims' families. The city plans Tuesday to remove the items and move them to the city archives in West Roxbury for cleaning, fumigation, and archiving. There, they will join other, more fragile keepsakes from the memorial—paper chains and posters, for example—that were removed from the square in early May, before the arrival of rain.

“It is my hope,” wrote Menino in the letter, dated June 17, “that the respectful closing of the temporary memorial will help us all look to the future.”

Advertisement—Continue Reading Below

The memorial grew quickly in the weeks following the bombing, as more and more people left tokens and messages, and city workers consolidated the shrine. Early Tuesday morning, with the assistance of volunteers from the mayor's office, city archives, and the New England Museum Association, all the items should be removed in just a few hours.

Menino decided to dismantle the makeshift memorial after conversations with survivors and victims’ family members, said Katharine Lusk, one of his advisers. Many requested the memorial stay in Copley Square for about two months, she said, to give as many people as possible the opportunity to visit before items began to deteriorate.

After Tuesday, components of the memorial will be available for viewing at the archive upon request, Menino said. Lusk said that although there are no firm plans yet, there may be discussions about putting the items on public display.

With the temporary memorial gone, the city will focus on planning a more permanent remembrance. In his letter, Menino announced the creation of a Remembrance Committee to oversee the creation of a permanent way to honor survivors and victims. This could be anything from a monument to an annual event or scholarship fund, said Lusk. Menino thanked survivors and their family members for their input regarding the temporary and permanent memorials, and invited them to serve on the committee.

“I continue to be proud of the courage of our great city and its people,” he said. “Thank you for the example you and your families set for us all.”

Share