Construction will begin on Monday for an interim monument memorializing the 49 victims killed in Orlando’s 2016 Pulse nightclub attack, though officials still have not finalized plans for a permanent monument and museum.
The Florida-based onePULSE Foundation released a series of artist renderings of the site Thursday, which showed new lighting fixtures, fencing and interactive wall exhibits on the site of the old nightclub. The now-iconic Pulse sign will remain in place.
Meanwhile, officials from the onePULSE Foundation are working with the Orange County Regional History Center to collect and preserve the various artifacts, works of art, messages and other personal items that victims’ families have left at the site.
“As we move to create a permanent memorial and museum to honor the 49 precious lives that were taken, we also know the importance of ensuring the families, survivors, first responders, and the community continue to have a place to reflect on what happened here,” Barbara Poma, onePULSE Foundation’s executive director and owner of the nightclub, said in a press release. The interim memorial, she added, will create “a meaningful and inviting space” before the final version is in place.
The Orange County Regional History Center’s chief curator, Pam Schwartz, echoed those sentiments, noting that her organization was “dedicated to ensuring that the lives taken, all those affected, and the outpouring of public support are not forgotten.”
“We will use the utmost care and sensitivity in preserving the items that were so lovingly created and placed here,” she said. “They will be integral as the onePULSE Foundation plans the museum.”
At present, the interim memorial is intended to be in place for up to two years, with three possible one-year extensions. Construction is expected to take 60 days.
Poma first announced plans for a memorial and museum on the site of 2016 massacre, which targeted members of the LGBTQ community, last May.
Still, Orlando residents have been divided over how to properly commemorate the tragedy. A January survey found voters split nearly evenly over whether the building itself should be demolished.
The results came as a surprise to Poma, who told the Orlando Sentinel, “I initially thought we had to tear the building down.”