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"Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial" exhibition to open at Boston Public Library on April 7

March 14, 2014

Mayor's Office

Published by:

Mayor's Office

In the days and weeks following the 2013 Boston Marathon, a makeshift memorial grew in downtown Boston’s Copley Square. Comprised of thousands of items like flowers, posters, notes, t-shirts, and running shoes, the memorial offered messages of love, support, and hope to the victims and their families as well as the broader city of Boston. Beginning April 7, select pieces from that memorial will be on display at the Boston Public Library in an exhibition called "Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial," which aims to provide visitors with a place for reflection. The exhibition will open with a special ceremony led by Mayor Walsh at 10:00 a.m. in the Library’s McKim Exhibition Hall, located in the Central Library in Copley Square, 700 Boylston Street. Dear Boston is open to the public beginning at 11:00 a.m. on April 7. 

"Dear Boston represents our strength and solidarity not only as a city, but also as a community that supports one another through even the most difficult of times," said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. "I encourage people – residents and visitors alike – to visit the exhibition, experience the resilience of the people of Boston, and view the messages of hope and healing."  

Open from April 7 through May 11, the exhibition invites visitors to experience the profound emotions and solidarity evoked by the original memorial. Divided into three major sections, it transitions visitors from reflection to action and from memories of the tragedy to messages of hope and courage for the future as they move through the exhibition and out into their community. The exhibition, curated by Rainey Tisdale, is organized by a partnership that includes the Boston City Archives, Boston Art Commission, New England Museum Association, Boston Public Library, and Iron Mountain. For more information, visit    

"Boston Public Library is proud to host this exhibition," said Amy E. Ryan, President of the Boston Public Library. "Libraries are places for community gathering and lifelong learning, in good times and in challenging times. We invite Bostonians and Bostonians at heart to visit our Copley Square location during this important time of remembrance."  

In June of 2013, thousands of items from the memorial were transferred to the Boston City Archives for safekeeping after the memorial was dismantled. Now, after months of preservation and organization, selected iconic items will be displayed in the exhibition, including personal notes of condolence; signs and posters from towns all over Massachusetts and the world with messages of support and encouragement; items left by spectators, runners, and Marathon volunteers; declarations of hope and compassion; and 150 pairs of running shoes. Following the exhibition, all of the items will be preserved by Iron Mountain and available to the City for as long as needed.  

"As a company with its global headquarters in Boston, the events of April 15, 2013 resonated with us deeply," said William Meaney, president and CEO of Iron Mountain. "We are honored to be an organizing partner by providing our resources and expertise to the city of Boston’s Marathon Memorial, affording us an opportunity grounded in the principles Iron Mountain was founded upon over 60 years ago: protecting, preserving and creating access to some of the world’s most treasured ideas, information and memories. Rest assured these precious items are safe with us."  

The Dear Boston exhibition is one part of a larger community arts effort called #BostonBetter, where area museums, libraries, and archives will host various programs associated with the one-year anniversary of the 2013 marathon. For more information on this project, visit  

"Like the original memorial in Copley Square, exhibitions like ‘Dear Boston’ can help us find meaning from tragedy and bring us closer together," said New England Museum Association Executive Director Dan Yaeger. "We hope that #BostonBetter can provide that, helping to inspire people to act for the betterment of their communities moving forward. We’re happy to help bring together the museums and museum professionals who made the exhibition and supporting events possible."