National September 11 Memorial & Museum, New York
The 9/11 Memorial with the museum’s entrance pavilion in the background, photo by Jin Lee, courtesy of 9/11 MM
The National September 11 Memorial and Museum is a remembrance site established in New York to document the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks and commemorate their victims.
The September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York is a historical site that does not present remote conflicts or civilizations, but events that almost all of its visitors have seen and have been deeply touched by, although in different ways.
It is at the same time a memorial, a museum, and a remembrance site, all interconnected to form a coherent ensemble, whose different parts collaborate with one another.
Memorial and Plaza
The 9/11 Memorial is located in the exact site where the World Trade Center and the Twin Towers once were.
Following an international design competition held in 2004, the design of the Memorial was developed by NY-based architects Michael Arad in collaboration with landscape design firm Peter Walker and Partners.
The Memorial consists of two square pools, with side waterfalls, which retrace the footprint of the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center, originally designed by American architect Minoru Yamasaki in the early 1960s The pools are encircled by the names of the nearly 3,000 victims of the 1993 and 2001 terrorist attacks inscribed on bronze plates.
The Memorial’s plaza is a large public space, planted with a grove of over 400 swamp white oaks, among them stands the “Survivor Tree”, a pear tree that miraculously withstood the 9/11 events at Ground Zero.
The Plaza features highly sustainable building techniques, such as a floating pavement designed to help a correct tree growth, and an innovative rain collecting system which provides irrigation water for the plants.
September 11 Memorial & Museum, aerial view; image courtesy of 9/11 MM
September 11 Memorial & Museum, site plan; image courtesy of Peter Walker and Partners
9/11 Museum – entrance pavilion
Opened on May 21, 2014, the 9/11 Museum is composed of two main parts: the Entrance Pavilion and the underground galleries.
Designed by Norwegian architecture office SNØHETTA, the Entrance Pavilion is the only part of the complex located above the ground.
The pavilion, a transparent and visually lightweight two-story construction, is the “gateway” between the urban realm and the museum’s sunken levels. Such a functional and symbolic role is underlined by the presence of two large columns, recovered from the World Trade Center’s towers, which overlook the pavilion’s atrium and, like silent guardians, indicate to the visitors the way to the museum’s subterranean spaces.
The entrance pavilion also accommodates an auditorium into which concerts, film screenings, live performances, and talks are regularly staged.
Exterior view of the Entrance Pavilion, photo © Jeff Goldberg/Esto
Transverse section of the 9/11 Memorial Museum complex
The pavilion’s atrium, with the WTC’s facade columns on the right; photo © Jeff Goldberg/Esto
9/11 Museum – underground galleries and exhibitions
In a direct relationship with the Memorial, the underground Museum is a 110,000-square-foot ensemble of various exhibition spaces, located 70 feet under the level of the plaza and designed by the 9/11 Memorial Museum lead architects, Davis Brody Bond.
The underground galleries feature four permanent exhibitions: the Memorial exhibition, the Historical exhibition, and the Foundation Hall, as well as temporary and thematic exhibitions.
The Memorial exhibition, entitled In Memoriam, runs in the space between the Twin Towers’ footprints.
The exhibition is composed of a long wall, truly impressive, which features the portraits of the 2,983 people who perished in the 1993 and 2001 terrorist attacks; a group of touch-screen monitors provides details about each victim through texts, photos, and audio recordings.
The Historical exhibition comprises three chronological sections entitled Events of the Day, Before 9/11, and After 9/11.
Through many artifacts, models, personal objects, documents, and audiovisuals, the exhibitions present the tragic events that occurred in the place, as well as their background, the immediate aftermath and long-term consequences.
The Foundation Hall is a truly impressive gallery; it is a huge, cavernous room dominated by an original steel-column of the WTC and an imposing reinforced-concrete slurry wall, which are the largest remains of the Twin Towers buildings.
The Foundation Hall is an austere space, equipped with unobtrusive information panels, touch-screens, and video-projections, which help contextualize the heart-breaking artifacts on view.
It’s here that the museum fully expresses its being “contemporary archaeology”. While such a definition may seem an oxymoron, to define the 9/11 Museum simply a historical museum is not enough. Although related to recent events, these two tragic, monumental, remains are, from a historical point of view, as significant as those of Pompeii or the Acropolis.
Opened in 2016, Rendering the Unthinkable: Artists Respond to 9/11 presents artworks – videos, drawings, sculptures, and painting – by thirteen artists from New York City who, through their art, memorialize and react to the September 11 tragedy,
Memorial Exhibition, photos by Jin Lee
Historical Exhibition; an NYFD Ladder 3’s fire truck, badly damaged by the collapse of the towers, is a symbol of the sacrifice of all firefighters who perished during the rescuing effort on 9/11; photo by Jin Lee
View of the Foundation Hall from above, with the “Slurry Wall” on the left and the 36-feet steel column in the center; photo by Jin Lee
The 9/11 Museum Entrance Pavilion designed by Snøhetta, photo © Jeff Goldberg/Esto
Photo by Amy Dreher
The stairwell leading from the entrance pavilion to the museum’s underground galleries, photo © Jeff Goldberg/Esto
View of the Twin Towers’ facade columns in the Entrance Pavilion, photo by Jin Lee
Historical Exhibition; wreckage from the fuselage of American Airline Flight 11, photo by Jin Lee
Foundation Hall, Photo by Jin Lee
Top: President Barack Obama speaks in the Foundation Hall at the museum’s Dedication Ceremony on May 15, 2014; bottom: Alison Crowther, mother of a 9/11 victim, in front of the “Slurry Wall”; photos by Jin Lee
Cover image: a fragment of the facade of the North Tower, deformed by the impact of American Airlines Flight 11; photo by Jin Lee
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