Rasmussen Announces Funds to Pursue Seattle AIDS Legacy Memorial Project

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Rasmussen Announces Funds to Pursue Seattle AIDS Legacy Memorial Project
Announcement made at World AIDS Day breakfast this morning


SEATTLE – Councilmember Tom Rasmussen today announced the City Council has dedicated $75,000 to initiate a planning process to create a Seattle AIDS Legacy Memorial. Those funds would be directly matched by a community organization, which would take a leadership role in planning and proposing an appropriate memorial.

Nearly 4,000 Seattleites died in the first two decades of the AIDS epidemic, and a history of both the crisis and the community’s response has not been comprehensively collected, recorded or presented.  Councilmember Rasmussen sponsored the memorial proposal after listening to advocates involved in the early days of the epidemic who felt that the history and the stories of the lives that were lost be chronicled.

“The Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) is deeply honored to participate in planning for a Seattle memorial to preserve the stories of those who lost their lives during the AIDS crisis, and to share the important lessons that we learned,” said Leonard Garfield, Executive Director of MOHAI. “We will work to engage the entire community to help envision the memorial, to share the stories that it will honor, and to help raise funds to meet the city’s generous initial contribution.”

“We need to create a memorial worthy of those who died and of those worked creatively, tirelessly and fearlessly to help those diagnosed with the HIV virus,” said Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, the proposal’s sponsor. “The AIDS crisis personally touched my life, and the memories of those lost deserve to live on.”

The planning process, which includes a requirement that the $75,000 in City funds be matched, will be put to bid in early 2016.  MOHAI, or whichever qualified organization receives the funds, will be expected to:

  • Convene and staff an advisory committee of diverse community members familiar with or involved in the response to the AIDS crises;
  • Conduct a series of public focus groups to gather input about the character of a legacy/memorial project;
  • Engage artists, design and engineering professionals and historians and curators to develop concepts;
  • Prepare collateral materials to share options of a legacy/memorial project;
  • Produce a final report that outlines scale, location, timeline, financial information, and other components of the project; and
  • Complete preliminary research and present legacy/memorial options to the advisory committee which would reach consensus on a recommended legacy/memorial project and course of action.

“Seattle stepped up during the most devastating epidemic of our time, to show the rest of the country how the community can care for each other,” said Michele Hasson. “Seattle’s response to this crisis deserves to be memorialized, and I’m thankful that we’re moving toward a lasting memorial.”

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