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Museum preserves memorial wall for building collapse victims

August 30, 2021 GMT
Michael Knoll, chief curator of the HistoryMiami Museum, works at the site of a memorial wall honoring the victims of the nearby deadly building collapse on June 24 that killed 98 people, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. The museum is working with the city and county to catalog the items and preserve them in an archival bin for safekeeping. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
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Michael Knoll, chief curator of the HistoryMiami Museum, works at the site of a memorial wall honoring the victims of the nearby deadly building collapse on June 24 that killed 98 people, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. The museum is working with the city and county to catalog the items and preserve them in an archival bin for safekeeping. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
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Michael Knoll, chief curator of the HistoryMiami Museum, works at the site of a memorial wall honoring the victims of the nearby deadly building collapse on June 24 that killed 98 people, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. The museum is working with the city and county to catalog the items and preserve them in an archival bin for safekeeping. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Officials with a South Florida museum are collecting the photos, notes and other personal items that make up a memorial wall near the site of the deadly building collapse that killed 98 people.

A group from HistoryMiami Museum was working Monday near the Champlain Towers South site in Surfside. In the days following the June 24 collapse, friends and family members who lost loved ones began creating the memorial wall along a fence that surrounded tennis courts across the street from the collapsed building.

“The priority right now is preservation,” museum spokeswoman Michele Reese said in a statement. “So today we are cataloging all of the items, putting them in archival bin, and taking them to our offsite storage facility for safekeeping.”

There were no immediate plans for an exhibit, but Reese said the museum would be happy to work with the city and county in the future. For now, with three months left in hurricane season, museum officials just want to protect the memorial wall, Reese said.

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“This is incredibly meaningful project for our team,” Reese said. “We want to make sure that the legacies are preserved.”

Surfside resident Drew Dellacioppa, who knew some of the victims, said he’s glad to see the wall preserved and hopes to see a plaque or some kind of memorial to acknowledge the lives lost.

“I think it would be good in a museum to get the pictures there,” Dellacioppa said. “Unfortunately, it’s a memory, a bad memory, but it’s something that’s the history of Miami and Miami Beach.”

Also Monday, a commercial real estate company began marketing the site where the building once stood. Avison Young listed the 1.88-acre (0.76-hectare) oceanfront property on its website at the direction of a judge and court appointed receiver. The company is providing its services on a pro bono basis.

Some family members had expressed a desire to see a memorial built on the site where the 12-story condo once stood, but Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman previously said that was unrealistic. He said during a hearing that the property must be sold to compensate victims of the tragedy. At least one bidder has offered up to $120 million for the property.

Though a memorial at the building site itself seems unlikely, officials with the city of Miami Beach, immediately south of Surfside, have offered a portion of the 28-acre (11-hectare) North Beach Oceanside Park as a potential memorial site. The park at the northernmost end of Miami Beach is about 100 feet (30 meters) from the collapse site and was used as a command site for search and rescue teams.

Investigators are still trying to determine what caused the 40-year-old building to collapse, which came years after initial warnings about serious structural flaws. Debris has been cleared from the site and taken to a warehouse near the Miami International Airport for examination.