Hundreds of worn running shoes, heartfelt messages written on merchandise and a stuffed teddy bear are some of the items on display at “Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial,” a free exhibit that on Monday opened to the public at the Boston Public Library in Copley Square.
Before the exhibit's unveiling, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh told a hushed crowd of media and spectators to continue supporting the healing community as the Boston Marathon bombing anniversary approaches.
“Last year we were tested, and this year we still feel grief. But what we see here is a tribute to how as a community we have come through these tragedies. We turn to each other and offer whatever we have to give. A helping hand, a word of comfort, a token of hope,” said Walsh.
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. Alleged mastermind Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was later killed during a police shootout, and his younger brother, Dzhokhar, was eventually arrested and charged in the terror attack.
Items in the exhibit, which runs through May 11, were taken from the original Boylston Street memorial, which was created almost immediately after the bombings at the police barrier. The objects were later moved to Copley Square, then transferred to the Boston City Archives for safekeeping.
Also part of the exhibit, visitors are encouraged to write down a "hope for the future" and string it up on a tree of messages.
Walsh said the tokens of compassion "remind us that by coming together we have the strength to persevere. Seeing them appear — preserved in such a beautiful form — we receive their healing powers all over again with witness to a source of strength. That strength is the spirit of Boston.”
The mementos will remain on display as hundreds of thousands of visitors descend on the city for the 2014 Boston Marathon, on April 21.
Marathon goers who choose to view the exhibit will be privy to a powerful message of hope, according to U.S. Senator Edward Markey.
“One year ago our hearts and our city were shattered. Lives, limbs, loved ones all lost in the span of 10 seconds. This exhibit, this memorial helps to answer the question, ‘How do we put the pieces back together again?’ And the answer is, ‘We do, but not in the same way.’”
Dear Boston is the first piece of the larger #BostonBetter effort, which organizers describe as a collaboration between more than a dozen museums, libraries and other cultural institutions.
The project offers space for people to cope, reflect, remember, heal and move forward as the anniversary of last year's Boston Marathon bombing approaches.
A calendar of upcoming public events is available at www.bostonbetter.org.