9/11 Memorial & Museum

(For lack of a better word, this is my disclaimer- Recently, I visited the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. Admittedly, I was extremely hesitant to visit the museum and relive that inconceivably awful day, and even more hesitant to actually write a blog post about it. My intentions for almostfreeNYC are to provide people living in/visiting NYC fun and inexpensive ideas on what to do, see, eat, etc., but to have a blog post about something so sensitive and heavy, didn’t initially seem appropriate. It was an extremely emotional visit and it still sits heavily with me weeks after visiting, and I expect that feeling will never go away. Even so, after reflecting on everything I had experienced at the Memorial & Museum, I think it’s important for everyone to see…for everyone to feel.) 

The 9/11 Museum tells the ongoing story of September 11, beginning with events that predate that historical day (like the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center), as well as chronicling both the immediate and ongoing events following 9/11. The museum itself has faced a great deal of controversy since the beginning stages of its creation, many opposing its location. The exhibition is seven stories below ground level at the bedrock foundation of the World Trade Center…an exceptionally haunting site that many argue should have been left untouched.  Although the controversies over the museum extended its opening date many times, they obviously and ultimately prevailed with the hopes that the museum will teach its visitors about 9/11 and how it continues to affect the world, as well as honoring the victims that lost their lives in that very site.

The Museum consists of three main areas which include, Foundation Hall, the Historical Exhibition, and the Memorial exhibition. Foundation Hall includes the original, untouched wall of the original World Trade Center, referred to as “slurry wall”, which through its survival, serves as a metaphor for strength and resilience even through devastation. Also in Foundation Hall is the “Last Column”, standing at 36-feet high.  During the days and weeks after 9/11, the column was used to post missing persons flyers, mementos, and memorial inscriptions that still remain on the artifact today.  Other artifacts on the exhibition level include the “‘Survivors’ Stairs” (Vesey Street stair remnants), that hundreds of survivors used to escape the Twin Towers on 9/11.

The Historical Exhibition consists of three parts which include the events of the day, before 9/11, and after 9/11.  Each part of the exhibit includes photographs, video, real-time audio recordings, archival news footage, and audio of personal interviews and testimonies. Essentially, it’s a timeline of before, during, and after 9/11 and the significant events that live within each one.

The last part of the Memorial & Museum, is the Memorial Exhibition, In Memoriam. The exhibition room commemorates the nearly 3,000 lives taken on 9/11 and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.  The room is lined with a portrait photograph of each victim, as well as a glass enclosed selection of some of the victims personal belongings and artifacts. An inner chamber in the room displays a movie-like presentation of the profiles, photographs, and audio recordings of individual victims. In Memoriam also includes touchscreen tables that allow visitors to find more information, photographs, and audio recordings from family members of each person.

I whole heartedly recommend visiting the Memorial & Museum. It’s hard, and you’ll leave with a heavy heart, but it’s a beautiful way to commemorate the events of that horrible day and the victims of 9/11.

The museum offers Free Admission Tuesdays (tickets can be purchased in advance here).  If you don’t order them in advance, tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis from 5pm-close every Tuesday. Regular admission is $24.

Categories: Art & Museums

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27 replies

  1. Thank you for both the awesome photographs and text. 🙂 If I should ever make it to NYC, I’ll definately visit the memorial. It has cast quite some discussion here in Germany as well — mainly the aspect of the dignity of the victims as opposed by the commercialisation through the museums gift shop — and so I consider your blogpost quite unbiased and informative.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for giving it a read. I’ve of course heard of those concerns as well. Selling keychains and souvenirs on a site that experienced that extent of devastation is something I also struggle to understand. It seems inappropriate to try and make revenue in that way at such a historically devastating site. Regardless, I will say that the presentation of the museum itself was done with respect and successfully commemorates the victims.

      Ultimately, I’m sure it was an extremely difficult museum to plan for. No matter what they did, some people are always going to disagree with how they did it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, you’re right. Planning and building a museum of this specific event is inevitably doomed to be critisised. To be honest, I like what I heard/read so far very much. 🙂 But until today, it was just newspapers that provided me with some information. You changed that quite a lot. 🙂
        And the guft shop… well, I yet have to come to a conclusion. I don’t know how funding for public institutions works in the U.S., but I know here in Germany, many Museums (have to) brush up their budget with the revenue from a gift shop because of their regular funding often just meets the expenses.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I saw the WTC Ground Zero in 2007 .It was still blocked off and a gaping site of the once famous towers.

    I remember the day vividly ,the shock and disbelief of the whole thing. I was safe in a different country but had cousins living in NY and was worried sick about them. Luckily they managed to rush home just as it happened.

    It is a good memorial now. Hope to see it

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have yet to visit. There remains a side of me that wants to avoid the pain of all that loss. I am from the city and remember all to well the day of the tragedy and have lived long enough to recall visits to the old structure when it was first built. It saddens me to write about it, even now. Yet there is a responsibility or calling that we all have to face. To relive parts of that day in order to honor all those lost. This sounds and feels like the right thing to do, for me anyway. Thanks for posting the article. It may be time to honor those lost one more time and pray that all sides in this tragedy can find a way to acceptance, responsibility and forgiveness.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for this excellent post. We shared the same qualms about both visiting the site and then writing about it this past summer. But it’s too important to ignore. We wrote about it (and shared pictures) here: http://exploretheworldwithyourkids.com/2014/08/11/september-11-memorial-family-travel-kids/

    We found the site itself so emotionally draining that we did not manage to go inside to the museum. But we will have to return with tween based on your review above.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Firstly, I love your blog’s theme. It’s such a great idea to write from your perspective and share your thoughts as a parent that travels with your children.

      I love the pictures on your post. The reflections of the buildings are captured beautifully. I actually missed the etched wall plaques on the side of the firehouse, so I’m glad I got to see it in your pictures.

      Thanks for reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks so much for all the kind words! Glad it resonates.

        It looks like we are on the same page, based on your blog. We love NYC and are delighted to have found your blog. The city has an inexhaustible supply of hidden gems.

        Looking forward to trading insights in the future!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. When I first visited NYC 5 yrs ago, the place was still a construction site, so I was more than glad that this time I saw One World Trade Center and the Memorial. We didn’t get to the Museum as there were many people (holidays you see), but we did see the pools! I know for some people might be hard, especially New Yorkers, but on the other hand in Poland you can visit Auschwitz were so many lives were perished as well. It is good to learn and remember!
    P.S. love your photo with the rose. My husband shot a similar one (minus the rose of course)

    Like

  6. I had an equally emotional experience there..very heavy stuff and it will keep with you throughout the day. But, posts like this help people to understand what they will be seeing and to prepare themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. When I visited the memorial I found it to be very beautiful but sad. The museum was not open yet. I might go visit the museum some day.

    Saint Paul’s Chapel is nearby and it’s very interesting too because of the role it played after 9/11.

    That’s a very nice post!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for the post. I had visited the site a few weeks after 9/11 and there aren’t words for how soul shattering it was. I’m taking my daughter this weekend (who was only a baby on 9/11) so that she may see what she’s only heard about. It will be healing for both of us in our own ways.

    Liked by 1 person

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