The Gun Violence Memorial Project seeks to create a permanent, national memorial that honors the lives and narratives of victims of gun violence.

“...You hear those numbers all the time, but you never tie names to them. I wanted you to see who my son was.”

—Pamela Bosley, Co-Founder of Purpose Over Pain, Mother of Terrell Bosley

Gun violence is a national epidemic that touches every community in America. The sheer scale of this epidemic often reduces victims of gun violence to statistics and ideas of change to empty promises.

The Gun Violence Memorial Project will be launched at the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial. The exhibition will feature four houses built of 700 glass bricks, each house representing the average number of lives lost due to gun violence each week in America. Families who have lost a loved one due to gun violence contributed remembrance objects at five separate in-person collection events. The remembrance objects will be placed within a glass brick, displaying the name, year of birth, and year of death of the person being honored. 

The memorial seeks to preserve individual memories and communicate the magnitude of the issue in built space, and hopes to foster a national healing process that begins with a recognition of the collective loss and its impact on society. There are plans to move the memorial to an exhibition in Washington, DC in 2020.

The installation in Chicago is the first step to recognizing the great need for a national, permanent memorial to gun violence victims.


Chicago Architecture Biennial

We are installing the first glass-brick houses at the Chicago Cultural Center as part of the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial.

September 19, 2019–January 5, 2020

Chicago Cultural Center
77 E Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60601

Free and open to the public

Monday - Friday 10am – 7pm

Saturday & Sunday 10am – 5pm


Contribute an Object

If you have a family member who has been taken due to gun violence, we invite you to participate in this exhibition by contributing an object of your loved one. By sharing a remembrance object that honors someone you love, together we can highlight the human toll of gun violence and inspire visitors to connect with the individual stories.

Opportunities will be available for individuals to contribute a remembrance object during the duration of the Biennial at the Chicago Cultural Center from 10am - 6pm Monday through Friday and 10am-4pm Saturday and Sunday.

Objects will be stored in a locked box in the Welcome Center.

At this time, we are not accepting mail-in object donations. If you would like more information, please contact participate@massdesigngroup.org.

Contribution Criteria

Because of the public nature of the exhibit, the physical constraints in brick size, and the commitment to generating productive and healing dialogue, remembrance objects will only be accepted if they meet the following criteria:

  • Are no more than 9”L x 4.5” W x 3”H in size and must weigh less than 5 lbs

  • Are objects that are meaningful representations of your loved one’s passions or personality (photos can be included to compliment these objects)

  • Are the property or in the guardianship of the individual signing the waiver and releasing the object

  • Do not contain perishable, combustible, light-emitting, or highly-flammable substances

  • Do not include personal identifiable information, such as a phone number, mailing or email address

  • Do not contain malicious, threatening, illegal, graphic, abusive, offensive or otherwise inappropriate content, or promote or advocate illegal activity

  • Do not include names or images of perpetrators

  • Do not lead a viewer to experience mental, psychological, emotional or physical harm

Please note that the memorial team has curatorial capacity to determine if a contribution is appropriate for display.

Upcoming Collection Days:


Sunday, October 20th

Monday, October 21st

Tuesday, October 22nd

Louis D. Brown Peace Institute
15 Christopher St.,
Dorchester, MA 02122


Thank you to the families that have shared their stories, memories, and remembrance objects. Read and share the stories behind the objects at Moments that Survive.

Project Partners


MASS Design Group is a nonprofit design collective that researches, builds, and advocates for architecture that promotes justice and human dignity. They have worked in over 20 countries, with 25 projects built or in construction. MASS brings inclusive design processes and invests in community empowerment, helping partners advance their mission through the built environment.



Haroula Rose works in both fiction and nonfiction filmmaking. Her directorial debut ONCE UPON A RIVER was named one of the "most anticipated films of 2019" by Filmmaker Magazine, and is currently on the festival circuit with upcoming screenings and nominations around the world. Rose's pilot LOST & FOUND was created in partnership with Warners Project 150, premiered at Tribeca Film Festival and went on to win several awards. Rose's work has been supported by a Fulbright Fellowship, Nantucket Screenwriters Colony, Tribeca's All Access, and Warner Brothers Directing Workshop


Songha & Company by and through its chief artistic officer Hank Willis Thomas, practices in the area of conceptual public art by working primarily with themes related to perspective, identity, commodity, media, and popular culture. The company was named after Thomas’ cousin, Songha Thomas Willis, who was a victim of gun violence on February 2, 2000.



Caryn Capotosto is an award-winning documentary producer from Chicago known for WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?, a feature documentary about Mister Rogers that won the 2019 Producers Guild Award and the 2019 Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary. She received a 2016 News and Documentary Emmy Award Award for her role as co-producer on BEST OF ENEMIES and she was associate producer on the Academy Award and Grammy Award-winning documentary, 20 FEET FROM STARDOM (2013).

Everytown is the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country with nearly 6 million supporters and more than 350,000 donors including moms, mayors, survivors and everyday Americans who are fighting for public safety measures that can help save lives. At the core of Everytown are Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Students Demand Action and the Everytown Survivor Network.



StoryCorps has given more than half a million people of all backgrounds and beliefs the chance to record interviews about their lives, pass wisdom from one generation to the next, and leave a legacy for the future. It is the largest single collection of human voices ever gathered. These powerful first-person stories are shared with millions each week on NPR, in animated shorts, and in best-selling books. StoryCorps is an independently funded organization. Learn more at storycorps.org.



Purpose Over Pain was formed in 2007 by several Chicago area mothers and fathers whose children have been killed by gun violence. These parents initially came together to support each other but soon recognized the need to honor the lives of their children by creating a positive impact to stop the senseless violence primarily experienced by and carried out by young people, and to innocent bystanders.



Frequently Asked Questions

Additional information about how to contribute an object to The Gun Violence Memorial Project.

What are examples of remembrance objects that can be submitted?

Remembrance objects can include anything that is representative or meaningful to the person taken that fits within the parameters noted above. For example: small toys, accessories (i.e., glasses, jewelry, hats), books or journals, objects specific to hobbies and talents (e.g., art supplies, music sheets, songs, poems, game pieces).

Can multiple artifacts be contributed for one person?

Each victim will be represented by no more than a single glass brick. The curatorial team will make a final determination regarding the inclusion of remembrance objects if they do not fit within the allotted dimensions.

Is there a limit to the number of physical contributions you’re accepting for this first project phase in Chicago?

For the 2019 Chicago installation we have a limit of accepting 1,000 remembrance objects contributions via in-person collection. If we reach this capacity before the September opening, we will identify opportunities to participate in later exhibit phases.

What constitutes a gun-related death?

Any death resulting from the use of a firearm, including but not limited to gun homicide, gun suicide, domestic violence involving a gun, police-involved shootings, and unintentional shootings.

Where will my object be located?

September 2019 - January 2020: Objects will be installed at the Chicago Architecture Biennial

January 2020: Objects will be placed in secure storage at the US Art Storage facility in Chicago *participants who request their artifacts returned after the Chicago Architecture Biennial at the time of donation will have objects sent back to them, rather than moving on to the National Building Museum installation

March 2020-December 2020 (tentative): Objects will be moved to the National Building Museum, as part of an exhibition on MASS Design Group

Objects will be placed in a secure storage location until the next installation or creation of the permanent memorial

MASS will communicate with participants whenever objects are relocated from storage to installation