Piecing it all together: An interview with Dear Boston’s project manager

"Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial" is on display at the Boston Public Library. PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO
“Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial” is on display at the Boston Public Library.
PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO

“There is a lot of divorcing yourself from the emotional aspect. You just tell yourself, ‘You have to get through this,’” said Anne Starr, one of the people who spent recent months sifting through thousands of objects left at the original Boston Marathon bombing memorial.

“That being said, there is something in every box that brings tears to your eyes.”

Starr worked as Project Manager on “Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial,” an exhibition of memorabilia on display at the Boston Public Library.

In the days and weeks following the fatal terror attack, thousands of people left a piece of their condolences in Copley Square. Teddy bears, tattered running shoes, flowers and letters revealed the sheer sadness that visitors collectively felt as they passed near the now notorious finish line.

The development team started moving full steam ahead on the exhibit in January, which meant the team had to be decisive on which of the thousands of items would be selected.

“So in a matter of two-and-a-half months, we went from very beginning stages of the exhibit to opening it to the public. Museums usually take a year or two to do that, so we didn’t have a whole lot of time to pour over the objects,” said Starr.

The objects that most spoke to her were related to people who were there on that fateful day, like running shoes, some bearing poignant notes written in marker.

Marathon spectators Martin Richard, 8, Lu Lingzi, 23 and Krystle Campbell, 29, were killed and more than 260 others were injured when two bombs exploded at the Boylston Street finish line on April 15, 2013. Days later, MIT Officer Sean Collier, 26, was shot and killed, allegedly by the bombing suspects as they attempted to flee the Boston-area.

“There was a note from Martin Richard’s teacher that stopped all of us in our tracks. It’s really kind of unpredictable which things will grab hold of you,” said Starr.

The centerpiece of the exhibit; 150 pairs of colorful running shares arranged in a large square shape. Things made by children, photographs of the victims, marathon bibs, and hand-made signs were also among the items selected for Dear Boston, though Star said the display represents only a small percent of the objects left at the memorial.

Visitors walk through three sections of the exhibit. The first area includes objects that represent the first minutes, hours and days after the attack. The second features objects related to a little later, like vigils, fundraisers, and group runs.

The final stage of the exhibit bears a message of hope, and even includes a “hope for the future” tree that allows visitors to write down their hope and string it on a branch.

“People are still trying to make meaning out of what happened. Those objects offer much more reflection on what this means, and how we can move forward as a community,” said Starr. “Our goal is to help facilitate some healing.”

“We were looking at things that would show the world wide support for Boston, the runners, those injured and the friends and families of those who were killed.”

The exhibit is free and open to the public, and will remain in place until mid-May, at which point the items will be returned to the Boston City Archives for safekeeping.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Preachers rail at NYPD at Eric Garner's funeral

Preacher after preacher stepped up to the pulpit at a sweltering Brooklyn church on Wednesday to express fury at the city's police force during the funeral of Eric Garner, who…

Local

Newark schools probed after claims of race discrimination

The U.S. Department of Education said on Wednesday it was investigating complaints that a plan to reorganize public schools in Newark, New Jersey, discriminates against black students.

National

Dogs are capable of feeling jealousy - U.S.…

By Curtis Skinner(Reuters) - Dogs are a man's best friend, and research released on Wednesday says canines want to keep it that way.Dogs are capable…

Local

G train riders brace for five-week shutdown

G train service will be suspended between Brooklyn and Queens between Friday, July 25, and Tuesday, Sept. 2.

Going Out

Where to go drinking on National Tequila Day…

Thursday is just close enough to the end of the week to make you envision yourself already sunning on a beach towel or lounging by…

Going Out

Things to do in NYC this week: July…

Performing arts A 70’s Summer Night Friday, 6:30 p.m. The Green Building 452 Union St., Gowanus $35, 347-529-6473 Party like it’s summer in the 1970s…

Going Out

5 must-try dishes at Edible Manhattan's Good Beer

Rooting out the exotic amid the New York City bar scene is noble quest. But if you’d like to have it all come to you,…

Books

Art imitates life (almost) in David Shapiro's new…

David Shapiro talks about his book, "You're Not Much Use To Anyone."

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

MLB

Brandon McCarthy finds his calling on Twitter

Yankees starter Brandon McCarthy joined Twitter three year ago for the same reason many people do: to get news quickly.

Sports

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Fantasy football: Johnny Manziel could give your running…

Fantasy football: Johnny Manziel could give your running game a boost

Food

Recharge with a post-workout smoothie from Nicky Hilton

Some people can roll out of bed right as their alarm goes off. And that alarm isn’t set for 20 minutes before they have to…

Education

Colleges are increasingly embracing the concept of gender-neutral…

  Northwestern University recently made headlines after announcing that it would be installing two gender-neutral bathrooms in the university's student center. “These are two gender-open…

Career

How to prepare to interview for your dream…

    Congratulations! You landed a job interview at your dream company! A lot of hard work has gone into determining which companies to apply…

Style

The shirtdress is a summer must-have

  We love throwing on our boyfriend’s shirt and a pair of jeans (no matter how much he grumbles that it’s his turn to wear the…