Friday, 16 May 2014 | MYT 5:55 PM

Tribute to tragedy: 9-11 memorial museum revisits fateful day

A museum memorialising the Sep 11, 2001, attacks opens this week to victims’ family members and next week to the public, displaying artefacts recalling the public and personal tragedy of that fateful day.

Visitors to the National September 11 Memorial Museum in downtown Manhattan descend to exhibitions several stories below street level to be greeted by a Hudson River retaining wall that survived the attacks and a column scrawled with numbers of the police and firefighters who did not.

The museum is the culmination of eight years’ work designing the exhibits, collecting artefacts and settling innumerable disputes over how best to document the day when hijacked planes slammed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and an open field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing nearly 3,000 people.

A view of the National September 11 Memorial Museum, which can be seen in the background on the left in the photo above, from the edge of the South Reflecting Pool. The two reflecting pools were built as memorials to the victims who perished on the site of Ground Zero; the pools outline the footprints of the North and South Towers of the former World Trade Center and are bordered by bronze plaques that carry the victims' names. 

Battles over oversight and funding slowed construction even as reconstruction of the larger World Trade Center site was getting under way. In October 2012, the museum’s lower levels were flooded in Superstorm Sandy.

“The museum is a place where you can come to understand 9/11 through the lives of those who were killed and the lives of those who rushed here to help,” said former Mayor Michael Bloomberg as he introduced the museum to members of the media on May 14.

A message inscribed on the bottom of the 'Cross' (above), intersecting steel beams found in the rubble of the World Trade Center. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg commented that a half-destroyed fire truck (below) recovered from the rubble was among the most moving exhibits in the museum. 

Among the most moving displays was a fire engine badly battered in the collapse of the twin towers, he said. “All I could think of was, I wonder what happened to the firefighters that were assigned that day on that engine and whether they survived and what were their last thoughts if they didn’t,” he said.

The museum helps to convey the events and emotions of Sept. 11 by using audio such as telephone messages left to loved ones from those who would die in the towers, and cockpit recordings from the doomed planes.

Some 35,000 people closely involved in creating the museum, including victims’ relatives, will get a first look in the coming week. Doors open to the public on May 21.

Two steel 'tridents' (above) recovered from the World Trade Center site after Sep 11, 2001, stand in the entry pavilion area of the museum, which is located underground. The 'survivors' stairs' (below) form one of the exhibits at the museum. 

“It is incredible, and it will wind up affecting different people in different ways, depending on their experiences,” said Joel Shapiro, whose wife, Sareve Dukat, died in the South Tower.

Shapiro plans to be a docent at the museum, which sought input from curators, educators, architects, preservationists, family members, survivors, first responders, local residents, business owners and others.

A recent controversy involved moving unidentified remains of victims to the museum site. Some family members said it was wrong to store them at what is essentially a tourist site.

“Part of the ongoing drama of the site is that you have 3,000 families, and they don’t agree with each other,” said Richard Hankin, director of a documentary film “16 Acres” that traced the contentious rebuilding process.

More than half of the US$700mil (RM2.3bil) needed to build the museum and memorial was raised privately, and about US$250mil came from federal disaster funding. – Reuters

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle , Arts , Frame Up , People , Entertainment , Arts , Frame Up , People , Museum , National September 11 Memorial Museum , New York , opening , memorial , exhibition , tragedy


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