Memorial Crane Project


APRIL 13, 2021 - SEPTEMBER 17, 2021

I created the Memorial Crane Project as a way to honor the victims of the Coronavirus. I started folding Origami Cranes in May of 2020 to help me process and contemplate the volume of the Souls we were losing from the Pandemic. On May 14, 2020 the number ticked up to 88,000 deaths. It shocked me and I did the math to figure out how long it would take me to fold a crane for each of these lost souls. It would have taken me approximately 24 years! I decided to invite people from my social media platforms to help me recognize and honor all these loved ones lost. In my art gallery, I created an installation of close to 7,500 cranes suspended from copper wires, creating a maze that would be walked through as the visitors commemorated those we have lost. Today as the numbers exceed 500,000 in the United States alone, I have received over 80,000 Cranes. 19,500 names and numerous stories as well. My intention in this installation is to display these cranes along with a list of names on a “Wall of Remembrance.” Viewers can scan a QR code to hear the beautiful precious memories of those loved ones lost, told by those left behind. My goal is to eventually create Memorial Crane Project installations in each US state to mourn and heal collectively as a Nation united in Love, Respect and Spirit. 


The Museum of Boulder met the Mid City neighborhood Los Angeles artist and owner of Matter Studio Gallery, Karla Funderburk through Boulder artist, Rick Dallago at the end of February 2021.  We met because of the synergy we were feeling and sensing regarding “history in the making” and our current exhibit, Drawing Parallels, in our Main Gallery. 


What we never would have imagined is how many lives would be lost in just a little over a year’s time to Covid, nor would Boulder have imagined having lost its ten souls on March 22, 2021 at the local King Soopers Grocery Store. That is why the museum welcomely shares its  power to create an experience we hope will lead to healing.  We believe community-led exhibits such as Karla Funderburk’s work, arriving on April 12, 2021 through April 18, 2021 will help our community move through the losses and “feel the cranes and souls”. The public is invited to contribute to the project and pay their respects to those lost.  The work does not end there, Karla has started a nonprofit associated with this work to  raise money to help families of victims lost to Covid. 

Karla has been approached by museums in New York San Francisco, Chicago, San Diego, and is currently featured at the Seattle Center.

Karla will arrive in Boulder with a trailer filled with over 10,000 paper cranes, each one representing a soul lost.  Together with volunteers, we will begin to string the folded cranes together with copper wire, beading and begin to place them in the Drawing Parallels exhibit.  Along with the cranes, QR codes will line the walls of our gallery with audio stories from all over the world: voices sharing their stories. Anyone who visits the Museum is welcome to add to the collection, and through September 2021, we are making a call to Boulder  to make more paper cranes that can be dropped off at the Museum. Karla will then move them  forward to feed into another location’s installation and representation. 

The Museum of Boulder is honored to be the Colorado site for Karla and the paper cranes that have been donated to her from nine countries and 45 states. She shares, “We seek spaces where people can find the will to continue and not give up, and to support each other”.  Stories of Karla’s work have been highlighted in the Los Angeles Times, MSNBC, the Boston Globe and on ABC National News. Cranes from the Memorial Crane Project are set to be on display at the Seattle Center in May 2021. 

No doubt this engaging opportunity will lead us to even further conversations and connections with community members like Carolyn Kerchof of Boulder Covid Stories, who will be present during some of the time, as well as our connection to the beautiful sculpture of Kevin Box, “Rising Cranes” gracefully rising in a soaring pattern from boulders quarried in Colorado (2015) honoring the former First Congregational Church Minister, Rev. Martie McMane, seen through the south windows of the Museum lobby.  Kevin  shares that “the mystical creature is said to live for a thousand years”, and is recognized as a symbol of much needed peace. We are looking forward to a partnership with a CU Professor who teaches Origami at the University of Colorado and local artist, Bonnie Cherni of Epic Origami, who has had giant pieces featured at Denver International Airport. 

In  this exhibit, there are historical “parallels” and stories intertwined with current stories — from the Spanish Flu of 1918 to the social unrest throughout history, and even more recently surfaced in marches on the Pearl Street Mall, located blocks from the Museum.  We have collected and highlighted stories from the response of frontline workers and patients in partnership with Boulder Community Health, including videos showing how their employees have processed the trauma by using a ritual upon entering work each day.  We honor all BCH frontline workers with free admission until this exhibit closes in September 2021.  As one moves through the exhibit space, they are surrounded by the relevance in this moment. One of the Museum of Boulder’s first calls for artists led to featuring sixteen artists in this exhibit that reveal an incredible palette of colors, photographs, imagery, pottery and sculpture responding to what we have all been moving through since March 2020.  In the center of the room is a “collective grief casket” made of willows by local artists Moonbeam Gardebring and Ellie Douglass, with their hopes that visitors can fold paper, contemplate, and write messages to loved ones, placing their beautiful messages in the willow casket that will be buried in the future. One of its visitors said, “It makes me reflect on the processing of grief of other people. It makes me feel less alone in this…” 


KCRW [NPR Interview]: