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El Dia de los Muertos exhibit honors Jan. 8 victims

The centuries-old Mexican tradition of honoring the Day of the Dead has inspired an exhibit that recalls the spontaneous memorials that sprang up in Tucson after the Jan. 8, 2011, shooting.

The exhibit is a collection of items left at the three memorials, which saw hundreds of candles, Teddy bears, handwritten notes with Bible verses and poems, flags, bouquets and balloons left on the front lawn of University Medical Center, the office of then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and near the site of the shooting at a Safeway on North Oracle Road. People began lighting candles in the hours that followed the shooting, and at UMC the memorial grew to cover the entire front lawn of the hospital.

Those items were later boxed up for later display.

"El Dia de los Muertos: Remembering January 8th" features a sampling of the offerings left by Tucsonans moved by the shooting that killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Giffords.

"The exhibit captures the sentiment behind the deeply meaningful tributes left by the community," said Julia Arriola, who curated the exhibit for the Arizona Historical Society. "It has been an honor to create a display that invites all to come and remember and, in many ways, serves as a thank you to the entire community for the generosity of their hearts and spirits."

"We are deeply honored to have this special tribute be part of the city’s celebration of all who have died," said Karen Christensen, president of the January 8th Memorial Foundation.

"The collective response of our community to the Jan. 8 shooting was an inspiration to us all, and with this beautiful display, we again have the chance to pay tribute and to reflect on the deep communal bond that was among the legacies of the shooting," Christensen said.

The exhibit is a partnership between the two groups, and will run Wednesday through Jan. 9 at the Arizona History Museum, 949 E. 2nd St. The museum is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Karen Hymer

An exhibit of items collected from the spontaneous memorials that honored the victims of the Jan. 8 shooting is on display at the Arizona Historical Society's museum.