April 9, 2021–September 25, 2022
MEDIA COVERAGE, AWARDS, & MORE
- April 9, 2021 / Philip Kennicott, Washington Post: What should a coronavirus memorial look like? This powerful statement on gun violence offers a model.
- June 2020 / San Francisco Design Week 2020 Award: Altruistic/Non-Profit Design
- February 4, 2020 / Cheryl Corley, NPR: Nearly 700 People in the U.S. Die From Gun Violence Each Week. A Memorial Honors Them.
- September 11, 2019 / Blair Kamin, Chicago Tribune: Mementos of gunshot victims to fill memorial that opens at Cultural Center next week.
“You hear those numbers all the time, but you never tie names to them. I wanted you to see who my son was.” —Pamela Bosley, mother of Terrell Bosley, Co-founder of Purpose Over Pain
Memorials are works of art and architecture that embody collective experience and provide a space for remembrance. Presented in conjunction with Justice is Beauty: The Work of MASS Design Group, the Gun Violence Memorial Project is a tribute to the thousands of lives lost to gun violence in America.
The Gun Violence Memorial Project comprises four houses, each built of 700 glass bricks, a reference to the number of people in the U.S. killed by guns every week. Over time, the bricks will continue to be filled with remembrance objects donated by immediate family members of loved ones taken by gun violence. The houses currently hold hundreds of objects—including photographs, baby shoes, graduation tassels, jewelry, a jump rope, and a prayer book—that reveal the personal narratives of each victim.
“Our goal was to communicate the enormity of the epidemic while also honoring the individuals whose lives have been taken. The recognizable form of the wood lattice and glass houses are but the framework in which the more intimate narrative is shared; the memorial is the willingness of families to share personal artifacts and stories of their loved ones.” —Jha D. Williams, MASS Design Group
The National Building Museum is the Gun Violence Memorial Project’s second installation; it was first installed as part of the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial. The Memorial was conceived by MASS Design Group and conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas in partnership with gun violence prevention organizations Purpose Over Pain and Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. Inspired by the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, the hope is to create a permanent national memorial that honors the lives and narratives of victims of gun violence, using the current design as a prototype.
Also featured within the gallery are video excerpts from Comes the Light, a forthcoming documentary about the effects of gun violence produced by Caryn Capotosto and directed by Haroula Rose. Interviews filmed in Washington, D.C., and Chicago capture stories about lives cut short and the objects chosen to represent them within the Memorial.
Both on-site and virtually, visitors can honor many of the lives reflected in the Gun Violence Memorial Project by exploring Moments That Survive, a digital storytelling campaign in which survivors share how their lives changed forever as a result of gun violence. Moments That Survive builds community among survivors and helps the public understand the many repercussions of gun violence. Twenty-five objects included in the Memorial are also commemorated in the online Moments That Survive Memory Wall. The installation concludes with a space of reflection and a call to action, offering visitors takeaway cards with information about local resources for survivors and allies.
No ticket is required to experience the exhibition, thanks to the generous support of Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. The Gun Violence Memorial Project is located on the Museum’s ground floor, next to the Museum Shop.
The Gun Violence Memorial Project is an active and living memorial, remembering lives taken by our ongoing epidemic of gun violence.
Over the course of its stay at the National Building Museum, we will continue to fill these houses with remembrance objects by hosting regular, in-person collection events. We encourage immediate family members who wish to donate an object to visit the Museum for those events.
By sharing a remembrance object that honors someone you love, together we can highlight the human toll of gun violence and inspire visitors to connect with the individual stories.
Upcoming Collection Event
- Saturday/Sunday, June 5–6, 2021, during Museum open hours: 11am–4pm
How to Prepare for a Collection Event
- Please visit gunviolencememorialproject.org.
- Under the Contribute an Object section, consult the contribution criteria and FAQs to help choose your remembrance object(s) and ensure that it will fit within a single brick of the Memorial. Objects can be no more than 9″ long x 4.5″ wide x 3″ high in size and must weigh less than 5 pounds total. Any original photos will be scanned and reprinted at wallet size.
- Fill out the online intake form.
- Sign the online waiver for either a Gift (your object is a permanent part of the Memorial), or Loan (your object will be returned to you after the Memorial closes at the Museum in September 2022).
Please note that the Memorial team has curatorial capacity to determine if a contribution is appropriate for display. Remembrance objects will be added to the Memorial within one month of each collection event.
We encourage you to reach out to email@example.com with any questions.
This audio piece, accessible in the exhibition through a QR code, is a selection of StoryCorps conversations that illustrate the indelible impact gun violence inflicts on its victims, survivors, and their families and friends. Special thanks to the participants who bravely shared their stories:
- Emily Addison remembers her co-parent Deonka Drayton, who was killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting. Originally aired June 9, 2017, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
- Stephen Venable and Tiffany Starr remember their fathers, Billy Venable and Stephen Starr. Stephen also remembers his younger brother, Bill Jr. Recorded in partnership with Everytown for Gun Safety.
- Regina Thompson-Jenkins and Glenda Torres remember their sons, Tre’ Devon Lane and Benjamin Davila. Recorded in partnership with Everytown for Gun Safety.
- Leila Ramgren and Chad Eisen-Ramgren remember Leila’s school lunch man, Philando Castile. Originally aired July 6, 2018, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
These interviews are provided courtesy of StoryCorps, a national nonprofit whose mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.
The Everytown Survivor Network offers support resources to survivors of gun violence. Individuals can also sign up for the Everytown Survivor Network email list to learn about ongoing events and ways to get involved.
Consider this booklist for further reading about the toll of gun violence on American communities.
- Michelle McCann: Enough is Enough: How Students Can Join the Fight on Gun Safety
- John Woodrow Cox: Children Under Fire: An American Crisis
- Alex Kotlowitz: An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago
- Reverend Sharon Risher: For Such a Time As This: Hope and Forgiveness After the Charleston Massacre
- Parkland Student Journalists: We Say #NeverAgain
- Shannon Watts: Fight Like a Mother: How a Grassroots Movement Took on the Gun Lobby and Why Women Will Change the World
- Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly: Enough: Our Fight to Keep America Safe From Gun Violence
- March for Our Lives Founders: Glimmer of Hope
- Lucy McBath: Standing Our Ground: A Mother’s Story
- Chris Murphy: The Violence Inside Us
Learn about the design, purpose, and meaning of the Gun Violence Memorial Project. Panelists: Pam Bosley, Mother of Terrell Bosley, and Annette Nance-Holt, Mother of Blair Holt, Co-Founders of Purpose over Pain; Debbie Weir, Senior Managing Director for Organizing and Engagement, Everytown for Gun Safety; Jha D. Williams, Senior Associate, MASS Design Group (moderator). This program was recorded on February 2, 2021, as part of National Gun Violence Survivors Week.
All photos: National Building Museum/Elman Studio.
The Gun Violence Memorial Project installation is made possible by:
Additional Community Partners include: Change the Ref; Louis D. Brown Peace Institute; Newtown Action Alliance; Purpose 4 My Pain; Jared’s Heart of Success; Moms Bonded By Grief; Philadelphia Ceasefire; RJT Foundation; The Akilah Dasilva Foundation; Mothers Fighting for Justice; States United to Prevent Gun Violence; Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Helping Hands Inc.; Center for American Progress; and The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Support for the Gun Violence Memorial Project installation at the National Building Museum provided by Crystal and Chris Sacca, The Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, Hasten Foundation, Koogle Foundation, Ravenswood Studio, Anonymous.
Additional support provided by John Means and Rebecca Ballard, Robert Holleyman and Bill J. Keller, McInturff Architects, and Arentz Landscape Architects, LLC.
In-kind support provided by Herman Miller.