About the Monument
The Monument is comprised of 204 pillars called “Traces”, which are 15 feet tall and measure approximately 4 x 4 inches at the base. The Traces lightly touch the ground and pierce the sky. The bronze surface of the Traces has a variable, organic quality. Each Trace has a slightly different color. In that way, like a person, each Trace is unique, although the shape of each Trace is consistent.
The Traces start with a very informal layout in the Celebrate and Educate section. As you move through the Traces in this section and toward the Remembrance section, the grid in which the Traces are located becomes more defined. This is a metaphor for what those affected by AIDS and HIV experienced in the 1980s and early 1990s.
The public didn’t really understand the disease, what caused it, how was it spread, how we were going to treat or cure it, how we were going to care for the sick, and when the fear, death and confusion were going to end. But as we fought for civil rights, as we organized, as we took care of the sick and educated people about prevention, as medical treatments became available, the disease became more manageable and understandable, and so the organization of the Traces into a grid reflects that greater clarity and feeling of community.
As you walk through the Traces in the Celebrate and Educate section, look up and you will notice that some Traces are engraved. 30 of the Traces have words engraved on them: words representing what people were feeling and experiencing, and representing the types of audio stories you can hear if you click on the Word Wall that appears on this website (on your mobile device if you are visiting the Monument). The words are placed in an irregular way throughout the Celebrate and Educate section of the Monument so that there is a process of discovery in finding the words.
The Monument offers a different experience depending on whether you visit during the day or at night. The location of the Monument near the restaurants, bars and shops of West Hollywood provides an opportunity for visitors from 6:00 a.m. until midnight.
At night-time, the lights at the top of Traces are illuminated, resembling the candlelight vigils that happened for years and years and gave marchers a sense of emotional relief and community during a very difficult time.