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.
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.