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Museum finds a home for Vancouver's post-riot graffiti

Vancouverites began writing apologies and angry tirades against the rioters on the boarded-up panels of the Hudson's Bay Company.

rafal gerszak The Globe and Mail

The plywood panels that went up to cover windows broken in the riot in Vancouver's downtown core, and which spontaneously became a massive bulletin board for a city's outpouring of emotion, will be saved.

The Museum of Vancouver has made arrangements to safely store the plywood sheets when they are removed from the front of The Bay, Sears, Chapters and other businesses that had windows shattered during the riot, last Wednesday.

Vancouver Councillor Heather Deal, who sits on both the city's public art committee and the heritage commission, said ideas on what to do with the plywood panels are flooding in from the public.

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But the first step is to ensure they are not lost when stores replace the broken windows this week.

"This is a crucial part of Vancouver's history and that horrible night," she said. "Space has been acquired at the Museum of Vancouver to store them until we decide what to do."

Ms. Deal said among the ideas she's heard so far are that the plywood sheets - which are festooned with messages from the public - should be turned into public art, made into park benches, put on permanent display on the exterior of a city building or put up at SkyTrain stations.

She wasn't sure how the many ideas will be sorted through, but says the process can unfold now that arrangements have been made to save the sheets.

"They are a really important part of this city's history now," she said. "That night can't just be about the images [of rioting]on TV."

Nancy Noble, CEO of the Museum of Vancouver, said the plan is to collect all of the plywood panels in the downtown core, and then to assess their individual value.

She said given the volume of material - there are for example over 100 sheets at The Bay alone - it won't likely be possible or desirable to save them all.

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"We're going to collect all of them for now, and document them all, but then we will have to make an assessment," she said.

Ms. Noble said the museum may try to find a way to get the plywood panels back on public display soon.

"We may do something this summer," she said. "And obviously it will tell a story [in a museum exhibit]somewhere down the road."

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