The National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York is almost ready. It is scheduled to open April 2014. Earlier this year, it was criticized for announcing it would have a fee of $20 to $25 per person. The latest news is not about fees but about content.
When visitors enter the museum, they will not go up to additional floors as is the case in most buildings. Instead, they wind down past the lower levels of where the World Trade Center towers once stood, past two 70-foot tall steel columns that were part of the North Tower’s structural support, finally reaching the solid bedrock of Manhattan.
The descending ramp will take visitors past different exhibits along the way. One of those is the staircase that people used to escape to safety. Another is the steel T-shaped crossbeam that was named the “World Trade Center cross” and symbolized hope to the rescue and recovery workers. Other exhibits are still covered and will be unveiled closer to the time of the museum’s opening.
Visiting this 9/11 Museum will be emotionally difficult for many. For the families who lost loved ones that day in 2001, for survivors, for people who lived or worked in either the New York area or the Pentagon, this will bring back the memories of that day. For anyone who saw it on television news broadcasts, heard it on the radio, or read about it in print media, this will be a difficult place to visit. But, it was designed so that as visitors make their way out of the museum, they will be ascending to ground level — to survival and freedom.
The exhibit will not just be about 9/11. Museum director Alice Greenwald has said it will also be about questions. It will include how the events of September 11, 2001, permanently changed the way people live. That conversation can range from security practices to personal feelings of trust. Greenwald has said that the public is invited “to participate in that dialogue.”
There are other 9/11 memorials in the New York area, particularly the one on Staten Island at Snug Harbor. The one in Manhattan that is opening in April is at the location where the events occurred. It will show both the worst and the best of human nature. Though the memories will be painful, the events of that day in New York, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania not only killed thousands, but changed millions of lives forever.
Written by: Cynthia Collins