We’ve often said stuffed animals are a lot more than toys. They are important symbols and mementos of various life happenings. This includes the tragedies, too. Many people leave stuffed animals at memorials for this reason. But what happens with the plushies?
You probably think that eventually they are gathered and go for charity. Not quite, as NBC News finds out.
Actually, flowers, notes, teddy bears, stuffed animals and all other items left at memorials are treated as historical artifacts. Museums around the US gather these items, sorts them and then work at preserving and keeping them.
One of these museums is the Clark County Museum in Henderson, Nevada. A group of volunteers helps the staff to sort and preserve more than 20 000 items left at various memorials around Las Vegas. “It’s very important to capture that while we have it, so that people in the future will be able to understand how we reacted to tragedy,” says Cynthia Sanford, curator at the museum.
The Orange County Regional History Center in Orlando is also working on a similar task. Workers there sort 10 000 items left around Orlando’s memorials after incidents.
“There’s these milestones in history that affect and impact the future of that community and tell the story of its past and so this is definitely an event that has forever changed Orlando in a lot of different ways”, says Pam Schwartz from the museum.
Many other museums around the US also such work. All of them are adamant that while this is a lot of work and it’s often heartbreaking, it’s also very important. The other option is to simply throw away the stuff and lose it, which is something museums don’t want to happen. They want to preserve these important small gestures from people and make sure we all don’t forget.