Artists and community leaders to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the I-35W Bridge collapse

To mark the fifth anniversary of the collapse of the I-35W Bridge, Twin Cities artists and community leaders will hold a public gathering to reflect on how that day transformed lives and our community. The event, called Bridge: A Gathering, will be held at 5:45 p.m. Aug. 1 in the Ruins Courtyard of Mill City Museum.

Following the event, an exhibition featuring photographs by artist Vance Gellert will open. The photographic exhibition is the culmination of a two-year project in which Gellert interviewed and photographed the survivors, first responders and others closely associated with the bridge collapse. These interviews also have been shared with several Twin Cities artists who have been commissioned to create short works intended to reflect on the experiences of the individuals who were a part of and witnessed the tragedy. Nautilus Music Theater, The Playwrights’ Center, and Rain Taxi Review of Books have commissioned artists to create a musical composition, a ten-minute play, and five poems, respectively, which will be presented alongside remarks by public officials including Mayor R.T. Rybak. The event will be emceed by broadcast journalist and entrepreneur Robyne Robinson

The Aug. 1 event is free and open to the public, but reservations must be made to secure a ticket by sending an email to or calling 612-673-2032.

Following the gathering, the audience will be invited to a reception and the official opening of Gellert’s exhibition, Bridge. In addition to portraits of and a selection of quotes from the survivors and first responders, photographs of the remains of the bridge girders – twisted metal that was transformed into sculptural objects in the 13 seconds that it took for the bridge to collapse – will be included in the exhibition.

The memorial project was organized to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the collapse, to engage with both the community of survivors and first responders through the stories they have shared, which address the many facets of the bridge collapse, its human cost, and its broader impact on the community at large. Since the 2007 collapse, the office of Mayor R.T. Rybak has produced an annual memorial event. By broadening the commemoration this year, the exhibition and event will allow a greater number of Minnesotans to participate in a remembrance event and reflect on the catastrophe in a public space with fellow Minnesotans.

The photographic exhibition, which is free to view, will be in the Mill City Museum’s central lobby through December 2012. For museum hours, go to


Published Jul 18, 2012