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Running shoes take center stage at Boston Marathon Memorial Exhibit

Images from the Boston Marathon Memorial and the Dear Boston exhibit
Images from the Boston Marathon Memorial and the Dear Boston exhibit

On Monday the Boston Public Library’s central branch at Copley Square opened a brand new exhibit honoring the Boston Marathon and memorializing the tragic bombing that took place at the event last year.

Sneakers on display at the Dear Boston exhibit

The exhibit features larger than life photographs of the memorials that were created after the bombings and showcases many of the items Bostonians and runners left behind at these places. Not surprising running shoes played a central role in most of these memorials, easily outnumbering the flowers, teddy bears, photos and other memorials people left behind.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was on hand at the opening of this “Dear Boston” exhibit. He called the collection a tribute to the way the community came together after the tragedy. Speaking of the artifacts shown in the exhibit, he added, “They remind us that we’re not alone. They 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.”

After the bombings a makeshift memorial was created by those wanting to pay their respects to the victims. The artifacts and mementos left behind, many of them running shoes worn by those who had participated in the event, were removed in June 2013 and stored for the past year. City Archivist Martha Crilley said that the memorial contained literally thousands of items and messages from mourners.

Many of the running shoes on display came with notes inside, expressions of grief and promises to return to Boston and run again. The exhibit hall contains notepad paper so visitors can leave their own messages. These notes are hung from trees located around the exhibit.

The exhibit is a joint effort between the Boston Public Library, the Boston Arts Commission, the New England Museum Association, the Boston City Archives, and others. The exhibit opened just in time to coincide with the 118th running of the Boston Marathon, which will take place in two weeks. The exhibit will remain open through May 2nd at the Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston Street, Boston, MA.

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