Pulse nightclub museum plans canceled by onePulse Foundation

Pulse Nightclub Museum plan canceled

This memorial outside the site of Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, memorializes the 49 people who were killed. The massacre was the worst attack on LGBTQ people in U.S. history. A foundation formed to raise money for a museum at the Pulse nightclub shooting site announced it has abandoned those plans. The onePULSE Foundation in Orlando confirmed it will forgo plans for a permanent Pulse nightclub museum.
Photo: Charlie Gage for Q Voice News.

A foundation formed to raise money for a museum at the Pulse nightclub shooting site announced it has abandoned those plans.

The onePULSE Foundation in Orlando confirmed it will forgo plans for a permanent Pulse nightclub museum.

“After careful consideration regarding the scope of our proposed projects, including conversations with victims’ families, survivors, and the local community, as well as unforeseen challenges, the onePULSE Foundation Board of Trustees has decided it is no longer feasible to move forward with the plan to develop a museum,” Earl Crittenden, onePULSE Foundation board chair, said in a statement on the group’s Instagram page.

The statement also said that the onePulse Foundation will return unused tax dollars it was given. In 2018, Orange County gave the onePulse Foundation $10 million public money for the land purchase and design of the Pulse nightclub museum. It’s unclear how much of that $10 is left.

The foundation’s announcement came four days after the city of Orlando decided to spend $2 million to buy the nightclub site from owner Barbara Poma.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said city officials plan a collaborative approach, working with families of the victims to create the memorial, not a museum.

The announcement also ended months of chaos after a public breakup between the foundation and Poma, who founded the nonprofit after the 2016 shooting.

Poma has said the foundation’s mission would be to create a permanent memorial at the site.

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The Pulse shooting remains the deadliest attack on LGBTQ+ people in U.S. history. Shooter Omar Mateen entered the club on Latin Night, June 12, 2016, and killed 49 people, most of them Latino or queer.

In 2021, President Joe Biden signed legislation designating the site a national monument.

Poma founded the nightclub, opening it in 2004 in honor of a brother, John, who died of AIDS complications. Many survivors and family members of those killed in the attack have blamed poor safety measures at the club for preventing some from escaping and blocking police from easily accessing the building.

The relationship between Poma and the foundation collapsed recently, and the two parted ways. The foundation for years intended to buy the site from Poma, but in financial disclosures it discovered Poma had already been paid a substantial sum from insurance for her losses.

“The onePULSE Foundation Board of Trustees found it no longer appropriate to pay the Pomas for the nightclub property after recently discovering that insurance proceeds paid off debt for the nightclub and asked for a full donation from them and their business partner, Michael Panaggio,” onePulse Foundation spokesperson Scott Bowman told the Orlando NBC affiliate.

Notably, the $2 million Orlando paid for the property is less than a sum Poma rejected months after the shooting.

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Survivors of the attack have increasingly been publicly at odds with the onePulse Foundation, which has announced little progress on a Pulse nightclub museum over its seven-year existence.

“Pulse and the Poma legacy has always been about how to flip a profit!” said Christopher Hansen, a survivor of the attack. “She even sold the club to her LLC for $100, so where exactly is that in the media for her wanting to ensure something happens for our community in honoring those affected by her place of business that was full of illegal violations, renovations, and entrepreneurship?”

Poma told WESH in Orlando this summer that she and her husband were willing to donate their share of the land to the foundation, but that a business partner was not interested in doing so.

The onePULSE Foundation still lists the creation of a museum as a project on its website.

The foundation opened an interim memorial on the site several years ago.

This article originally appeared on Advocate.com, and is shared here as part of an LGBTQ+ community exchange between Q Voice News and Equal Pride.

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Jacob Ogles

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