Officials discuss monuments, museums, and memorials for DC's future

Officials discuss monuments, museums, and memorials for DC's future. (ABC7 photo)

The monuments, museums, and memorials that line the National Mall are a big draw for tourists from around the world, but things are getting a bit crowded.

The National Park Service, the National Capital Planning Commission, and the Van Alen Institute have started the discussion, what will the next century of commemoration look like?

That is also the topic of conversation for a new exhibit inside the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. It's the culmination of a nearly six-month long competition called, ‘Memorials for the Future.’

The competition was intended to reimagine the way we develop and experience memorials in Washington, DC.

"How do we tell these stories in a way that's relevant to people today and how do we explore commemoration when we have limited space?" said Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles, spokesperson for the National Park Service.

The National Park Service announced Thursday the winning concept was 'Climate Chronograph.' It's a forward-thinking memorial focused on climate change. Essentially, the memorial features a grove of cherry trees that will flood over time as the sea-level rises.

"As it occurs trees will slowly die off and leave a written record in the landscape," said Erik Jensen, a bay area-based landscape architect behind the design.

Jensen and his colleague, Rebecca Sunter, allow nature to write its own story and their memorial provides a personal experience for people to interact with the space as it evolves over time.

"Immediately when it was about the future we wanted it to be about climate," Sunter said. “Living in the bay area and both being sailors in the bay area, sea level rises is a very near and dear issue with climate change."

Four finalists were selected from 89 different teams, from eight different countries.

The National Park Service Centennial is trying to engage the next generation. Lincoln and Jefferson are iconic memorials, but the goal is looking beyond marble statues and concrete and understanding what the next century of commemoration will look like.

"It's very important moving forward to think of a new type of memorial that is more flexible, can change over time," said David van der Leer, executive director of the Van Alen Institute, who also served as a member of the jury in the competition.

The winner and finalists make up "Not Set in Stone: Memorials For the Future," which will be on display in the Hall of Nations at the Kennedy Center through October 20.

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