Rashford mural messages to be removed this week and preserved for the city

The thousands of heartfelt messages left on the mural of footballer Marcus Rashford in Withington, Manchester will be carefully removed this Friday 23 July to preserve them, ahead of an expected change in the weather which has been forecast from this weekend.

Manchester Art Gallery, Central Library's Archives department, the People's History Museum, the National Football Museum, the University of Manchester, and the Withington Walls project who first commissioned the mural, have all been involved in discussions on how best to preserve the tributes - to ensure these messages of love, support, and solidarity that mark a shared national moment in our time, aren't lost to future generations.

The fine weather since the first messages were left on the mural has so far worked in its favour and allowed the growing body of messages to be seen and read by hundreds of people - some of whom have travelled long distances to visit the mural and leave their own messages of support.

There are fears however that the messages will disintegrate and be lost forever if they aren't removed in advance of the prolonged spells of rain that are forecast for the area from Saturday.

To ensure this doesn't happen every message and tribute that has been left at the mural will therefore be painstakingly collected before the rain comes in by a team of professional staff from Manchester Art Gallery and Central Library Archives+. 

MA students from the Institute of Cultural Practices at the University of Manchester are also standing by, ready to help with collecting the messages and documenting the process.

Wherever possible messages will be removed individually, however because of the amount of adhesive tape that has been used to fix tributes to the mural, it is more likely that whole sections will have to be lifted and packed on site, and then carefully separated later.  

After their removal from the mural all the messages and tributes will transported to Central Library's archives department for safe-keeping whilst all partners involved decide how best to make them more widely available.

Once at the Library a team of professionals will set about the delicate process of separating each of the messages, recording, and photographing them.

No decisions have yet been made on where the messages will eventually be kept - the priority at this stage simply being to preserve them and protect them from the weather.

It's hoped however that by preserving the messages they can be made available for education and public display in the future as an important and permanent reminder of just what a significant moment in the city and country's cultural history this has been.  

Marcus himself is also to be asked what he would like to happen to them and how he would like them to be used.

Councillor Luthfur Rahman OBE, Deputy Leader, Manchester City Council, said:

"The support and respect shown for Marcus and his teammates over the last week through the thousands of tributes left at his mural has been amazing and wonderful to see.  The actions of all those who have turned up in solidarity to see his mural and leave their own messages of love and support for him has 'Manchester' stamped all the way through it.  

"We think it's important this shared moment of solidarity - that started with the placing of just one small message of love on the mural after it was defaced - an action that spoke to the whole country and not just Manchester, is remembered and preserved for future generations.

"We're reaching out to Marcus with some thoughts on how this could be achieved and to ask what he would like to happen to the tributes, to help create a lasting legacy of tolerance, love, and solidarity for future generations to learn from."

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