Preserving Grief and Solidarity: MSU Museum Marks One Year After Tragedy

February 17, 2024 News

On Tuesday, February 13, we commemorated the one-year anniversary of the horrific violence that took place on the campus of Michigan State University. Given the MSU Museum’s role over the past year in preserving, documenting, and stewarding the collection of materials left at the various campus memorials following the tragedy, we received numerous requests from media to share our efforts to process the collection.

First, some background. In the wake of the tragic events of February 13, 2023, the MSU Museum undertook the critical task of documenting and preserving the outpouring of communal grief and solidarity expressed through memorial items placed around the campus. Serving as the central repository, the museum remains dedicated to the careful cataloging and preservation of a wide range of items, including signs, letters, candles, stuffed animals, and various personal mementos and ephemera. Throughout 2024, the museum’s efforts will continue to focus on efficiently cataloging and digitizing these 2/13 memorial items, conducting preventative conservation, and ensuring their proper storage, reflecting a commitment to both preserving this moment in history and respecting the emotional weight it carries.

As the one-year anniversary of the campus tragedy passes, the MSU Museum will persist in its collaboration with campus partners to gather additional materials commemorating this solemn occasion. However, in the near term, access to these materials will be restricted. The museum, alongside its campus partners, is deeply engaged in ongoing discussions about managing this important collection in a manner that is informed by an understanding of trauma, seeking to balance the need for preservation with the sensitivities such a collection invokes.

Since its founding in 1857, the MSU Museum has been dedicated to supporting the university’s mission through the collection of objects and specimens that underpin research, scholarship, and learning. The museum’s collections not only empower researchers with the resources to answer pressing questions and develop innovative solutions but also enhance education for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Moreover, they are pivotal in advancing outreach and engagement activities that foster a deeper understanding of our world. The work with the 2/13 memorial collections is a testament to the museum’s enduring commitment to preserving the past while enriching the future, playing a crucial role in the university’s and community’s journey toward healing and remembrance.

I’m grateful for the empathetic journalists who covered our work over the past week. Heading into the interviews, I had concerns, but each journalist understood the gravity of our work and its impact on our team. The coverage included the following:

A piece by Sophia Saliby for WKAR Public Media, which was also aired on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered show.

Screenshot of an article on the MSU Museum's work to preserve the 2/13 campus memorial collections on NPR's All Things Considered.

An article by Emilio Perez Ibarguen in The State News, MSU’s student newspaper.

A screenshot of an article from The State News documenting the MSU Museum's work to process the 2/13 campus tragedy memorial collection.

An article by Matthew Miller with MLive.

A screenshot of an article on MLive about the MSU Museum's work to preserve the memorial items from the 2/13 campus tragedy.

A live interview with Taylor Gattoni of WILX 10 Lansing.

A screenshot of a WILX interview about the 2/13 memorial collection and the MSU Museum's work to preserve the materials.

And, another interview with WILX’s Erin Bowling.

A screenshot of a WILX interview about the 2/13 memorial collection and the MSU Museum's work to preserve the materials.

An interview with Julie Dunmire of Fox 17 West Michigan.

A screenshot of a Fox 17 interview about the 2/13 memorial collection and the MSU Museum's work to preserve the materials.