In an interview with the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Holly's eldest brother Larry Holley commented before hearing both this compilation and Down the Line: Rarities, "María [Elena Holly] told me I was definitely going to just break down and cry when I hear all these CDs, because they've cleaned them (the songs) all up and Buddy's music never has come across so pure before."
The critical reception for Memorial Collection was fairly positive. The Allmusic review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine compliments the collection's progression in Holly's work, while he says that several bootleg recordings, including a ten-disc collection, have more music.Robert Christgau, writing for Blender, thinks that the album could easily have fit on to two discs and says that the most interesting songs on the collection were the "undubbed" recordings.Ed Ward, writing for Paste, compilmented Erick Labson's remastering, which he thinks made the recordings clearer than he's ever heard them. He feels that Buddy's New York City recordings produced by Dick Jacobs were the low part of the collection, but that Buddy's apartment tapes were much better. Stephen M. Deusner of Pitchfork Media feels that the Memorial Collection not completely needed most of the songs were already released on From the Master Tapes and Buddy Holly Collection, but he feels that the Memorial Collection still has several interesting tracks, like those with Bob Montgomery, and feels that the "undubbed" recordings add to the collection, but he feels that several of the "finished" recordings should have been included also. The Rolling Stone review of the album by Barry Walters gave a basic description of the album and summarizes Buddy Holly's career.
Memorial Collection generally got higher ratings from critics than Down the Line: Rarities.