BEARING WITNESS TO HISTORY: The One Orlando Collection Initiative
The One Orlando Collection Initiative is a partnership between Orange County Government and the City of Orlando. With assistance and input from numerous community stakeholders and partners, our community is united by the shared goal of expanding our understanding of the events of June 12, 2016, and to document the impact and legacy of the Pulse tragedy.
To preserve memorial items for the long-term memory of our community and to create a comprehensive historical record for current and future generations, Orange County’s Regional History Center is regularly photographing, cataloguing, removing and preserving the tribute items and mementos from the public memorial sites throughout Central Florida. The Center serves as the repository and caretaker for the physical tribute items, which will be collected and handled with great dignity.
To date, Orange County’s History Center estimates that they have collected nearly 5,000 pieces, curated from the numerous memorials established throughout Orange County. The collection includes large, very public displays of condolences including the 49 white tribute crosses from Orlando Regional Medical Center and an iconic IKEA sofa which was placed at the Dr. Phillips Center of Performing Arts memorial site that is now covered in signatures and messages of love. Among the thousands of tribute items is a rosary from the Vatican, which one woman left in memory of the victims. As the woman later explained, she did not have the funds to buy something of monetary value as a tribute, so she contributed her rosary, which had profound meaning to her.
Since June 27, personnel from the history museum have made regular collection trips to the site of the Pulse nightclub and other areas where memorials were established, including the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts and the Orlando Regional Medical Center.
On July 18, Orange County Regional History Center staff completed their One Orlando memorial collection efforts at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts' Seneff Arts Plaza. The Orange County Facilities Management team also worked tirelessly to manage the dignified and careful removal of thousands of deteriorated flowers from the memorials related to the Pulse tragedy. The flowers were collected and moved to Leu Gardens, where—through composting—they organically turned them into soil that will be used to nourish the gardens throughout the City of Orlando. A local uniformed Central Florida Council, Boy Scouts of America troop also performed the dignified removal of hundreds of American flags from the site, along with Puerto Rican and other official flags that were properly retired by the American Legion.
On July 12, the 49 Pulse tribute crosses placed alongside Lake Beauty on the Orlando Health campus were transferred to Orange County’s Regional History Center curation team, one month after the Pulse nightclub tragedy.
Orange County’s Regional History Center will also be collecting digital items related to the Pulse tragedy, including photographs, videos, spoken stories, social media postings and other remembrances, so these memories will be available for future generations.
To share a photo, memory, story or video, please contact Orange County’s History Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit at www.thehistorycenter.org.