Community Papers

Recent scholarship and thought pieces from the NEMA membership.


A Museum’s Reference Guide to Collecting Spontaneous Memorials 
By Sara Ariana Morin, May 2015

Museums in the United States have been faced with the difficult decision to collect objects from spontaneous memorials for quite some time but even more so in recent history. As time goes on, more museums will be asked to care for objects left behind anonymously by the public to reflect social unrest and historic events that have the ability to change the country and the world. At the time this guide was written, the current practice for collecting objects from spontaneous memorials come from institutions helping another out by providing information they gained through their own experiences. The information used in this guide brings together best practices from the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, National September 11 Memorial and Museum, and the Boston City Archives.

The purpose of this reference guide is to give museums a better look at what actions and supplies they may need to take on the difficult job of caring for objects as unique as the ones found at spontaneous memorials. In this guide you will find steps to take in order to make sure the collecting, preserving, and documenting processes go as smoothly as possible.

Click here to download the guide.