$10M in tourism money approved to build Pulse memorial, museum

Orange County commissioners unanimously approve funds

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ORLANDO, Fla. – A Pulse museum and memorial will be built using up to $10 million in tourism money after Orange County commissioners unanimously approved the use of funds for the onePULSE Foundation. 

Barbara Poma, the owner of the Pulse nightclub and founder of onePULSE Foundation, said Tuesday the museum and memorial will be historic landmarks. 

"We are not the first tragedy in our country," Poma said after the meeting. "You don't go to 9/11 to think it's a tourist attraction. You go there to make pilgrimage and pay our respect and to bear witness, and that's exactly what the Pulse sites will be." 

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said the distinction between the museum and memorial was imperative to the approval. Both sites will help it be a history center. 

"A memorial is the sacred land where the memorial goes, and that isn't changing," Jacobs said. "That's defined. The next step is identifying the next land suitable."

The museum will be built within the vicinity of the interim memorial. There are nine potential locations for the museum. 

"There is opportunities for where that museum is," Jacobs said. "But you have the funding to look for the land."

In a study done by the onePulse Foundation, an average of 300 visitors visit the interim Pulse memorial location. As of Oct. 19, more than 41,000 people had visited the interim memorial since it opened in May. Visitors can check in at virtual kiosks, and 10,653 different postal codes have been recorded. 

"I wanted to make sure that in 20 years from today, anyone who visited Orlando will exactly know that Pulse will never be erased," Poma said. 

Patty Bessette, of Boston, took time out of her vacation to pay respects to the 49 victims at the memorial. She said the tourism money is going toward a good cause. 

"I think if you know the back story and you saw it, you would come by," Bessette said.

Marie Brown, also from Boston, said tourists visit the Boston Marathon bombing memorial when traveling to Boston. She sees the new Pulse museum and memorial as the same concept. 

"People come to Boston to see where the Boston Marathon bombings were," Brown said. "I think out of respect, you need to come by here." 

[FULL PRESENTATION: See foundation's plans presented to Orange County officials]

Poma said both the museum and the memorial will continue the legacy of defeating hate.

"Memorials are where we go to grieve, and museums are where we go to learn," Poma said during the meeting.

The sites will serve as places to remember the 49 lives lost at the nightclub June 12, 2016.

Click here to see the foundation's presentation from Tuesday's meeting.