The owner of the Pulse Nightclub, the site of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, has announced plans to turn it into a memorial and museum to commemorate the tragic event.
“This must and will be a healing initiative, one that I believe will inspire supporters who share our vision and understand the sacred responsibility to which we have been entrusted,” Barbara Poma told reporters on Thursday at the Pulse nightclub site.
On June 12, 2016, gunman Omar Mateen pledged allegiance to ISIS in a 911 call then opened fire at the gay nightclub in Orlando. Forty-nine people were killed and dozens more injured before police stormed the building and shot Mateen dead.
Poma said she sought advice from the groups who established memorials after the Sept. 11 attacks and the Oklahoma City bombing.
“Historically if you look into the research of the other memorials that were done, they were not done by their governments,” she said, as member station WMFE reported. “They were done by foundations and task forces. So I am following the model that has sadly gone before us.”
She said they hope to open the memorial in 2020. It’s not yet clear how much the site will cost, or what it will look like, though Poma emphasized that it is a “community-driven effort” and the museum will showcase “historic artifacts and stories from the event.”
The owners have set up a non-profit fund, the onePULSE Foundation, to handle construction and maintenance of the memorial, as well a community grants to care for the survivors and victims’ families and endowed scholarships for each of the people killed.
The foundation says it will start the process “with a data-driven initiative to collect information about what the victims’ families and survivors envision” through an online survey.
Its board members include prominent members of the LGBT community, including entertainer Lance Bass and retired NBA Player Jason Collins.
“I know once it’s unveiled and we have it here, that we’ll find a place of comfort, but I know in 100 years it should be a place of education, and a place of change and remembrance,” Poma said in a video about the plans.
The Orlando Sentinel described what has been happening at the site since the deadly shooting:
“The entire area around Pulse, 1912 S. Orange Ave., was a crime scene for a week after the attack. But when the street reopened, the vacant black building quickly became a magnet for grief, vigils, flowers, artwork and impromptu memorials. Even now, more than 10 months later, people still visit daily.”
The newspaper added that it’s unclear whether the original nightclub building will be incorporated into the memorial, or will be demolished and reconstructed.