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Museum Plan for Pulse Nightclub Massacre Victims Abandoned as Orlando Advances Memorial

The onePulse Foundation, a private organization dedicated to creating a museum and memorial in honor of the victims of the tragic Pulse nightclub massacre, announced on Friday that they are relinquishing their plans for a museum. Simultaneously, the city of Orlando is progressing with the construction of a memorial.

The onePulse Foundation expressed their inability to move forward with the museum dedicated to the 49 individuals who lost their lives and the 53 who were wounded in the horrifying attack that took place in the gay nightclub in June 2016. The attacker, who had declared allegiance to the Islamic State group, was ultimately killed by a SWAT team after a tense standoff. At the time, this event marked the deadliest mass shooting in contemporary U.S. history, although it was tragically surpassed the following year when 58 people were killed, and over 850 were injured during a country music festival in Las Vegas attended by 22,000 people.

The fundraising and planning for the museum and memorial project had faced significant setbacks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the subsequent rise in construction costs rendered the project “financially impractical to complete as originally envisioned,” as stated in the public letter. Earlier this year, the onePulse Foundation had already decided to scale back its plans after estimating that the project’s cost could escalate to $100 million.

Earlier this week, the Orlando city council sanctioned the acquisition of the Pulse nightclub property for $2 million, intending to finally construct a permanent memorial in memory of the victims.

Efforts to establish a memorial and museum for the Pulse nightclub victims have advanced slowly since the tragic event. Until this month, the nightclub’s owners had not consented to sell the property. The plans for the museum were initially slated for a nearby location, purchased by the onePulse Foundation for $3.5 million through funds raised from Orange County’s tourism tax.

The foundation had also allocated $3 million in Orange County tourism tax funds for the project’s design. As of Friday, Orange County has announced that the parcel will be returned to the county since a museum will no longer be built there.

Barbara Poma, one of the nightclub’s owners and the former executive director of the onePulse Foundation, stepped down from her position last year and later departed from the organization entirely.

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