On Monday we basked in the warm rays of sunshine, while thousands of miles away in the freezing cold the team at the New York Times published a story on our little 49-square-mile city. The scoop? That the staff and volunteers running the AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park are looking into the creation of an AIDS Museum in San Francisco — the first of its kind in the world.
The New York Times compared the creation of such a museum to that of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in Manhattan and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in Japan. But whereas all of the former are signs of remembrance for acts of war and terrorism, this would be one of the first museums created in the USA to memorialize an epidemic.
“The story of AIDS is more than a disease,” John Cunningham, the executive director of the AIDS Memorial Grove told the New York Times. “ The real underpinnings of that story are about humanity, social justice, human rights and what it means to be a citizen of the world. Somehow there needs to be a keeper of the story.”
The plans appear to be in the super preliminary stage, so no designs or location proposals have been formally put forth. But in a city with expensive real estate, the price tag of such a venture may be its biggest barrier. The Holocaust Museum, which opened in 1993, cost $200 million, and the Sept. 11 museum, which opened in 2014, cost more than $700 million. While most Americans believe that the Holocaust and terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 were atrocious acts, the stigma surrounding AIDS still runs deep, and pockets may not open as widely to fund such a memorial.
While the details are sorted out, the nation will have to make do with the itty bitty World AIDS Museum and Education Center (thanks Google for the search result) located in a strip mall Wilton Manors, Florida.