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Items left in grief put away

By Kieran Nicholson
Denver Post Staff Writer

June 29, 2000 - Some of the memorial items left in Clement Park after the Columbine tragedy are now in the hands of local historians.

However, it's unknown when they'll be shared with the public again.

The Colorado Historical Society on Wednesday displayed for the media several items at its museum in Denver. The Littleton History Museum also gathered a small collection of materials earlier this month.

Neither museum will display the items in the near future.

"This was a very difficult, horrible tragedy fresh in the minds of everyone," said Kittu Longstreth-Brown, a director with the Colorado Historical Society. "It isn't that we won't (exhibit materials), it's a matter of when." Part of the mementos left at Clement Park, and still stored at the Federal Center, were photographed earlier this week for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

The Foothills Park and Recreation District, with the help of historians, curators and volunteers, gathered more than 6,000 items left at the Jefferson County park by mourners after the April 20, 1999, shootings.

The memorial items, from around the world, included crosses, stuffed animals, cards, letters, banners, sports equipment, candles and paper cranes.

The Littleton Historical Museum will display its collection "if there is an appropriate time and place," said museum director Mary Allman.

The Smithsonian's interest is preliminary at this point.

"We are exploring the possibility that some of these objects would become part of our collection," said Melinda Machado, spokeswoman for the National Museum of American History.

Machado said memorial items left at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington have been used in exhibits at the museum.

The Smithsonian, which is made up of 14 museums and four research institutes, was invited by Foothills to view the Columbine memorial materials.

Curators will look at the photos as part of a multi-step process before any decision is made, Machado said.

Patricia DePooter, mother of slain student Corey DePooter, said she hopes that any possible exhibits serve to prevent a future tragedy.

"I don't have a problem if it is done in the sense of what happened," she said. "Anything that we could do to help people remember so it will never happen again. Maybe it can help someone before they pull the trigger. In that sense, I don't have a problem with the museums."

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