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

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…

NFL

3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…