The Passion Behind Building the 9/11 Memorial Museum

The Passion Behind Building the 9/11 Memorial Museum

9/11 Memorial Museum Director Alice M. Greenwald recently wrote in Curator: The Museum Journal about the challenges of building a museum in a location where thousands of people were killed in an unprecedented event that altered the course of humanity. The following is an excerpt from Alice's article aptly titled "Passion on All Sides: Lessons for Planning the National September 11 Memorial Museum" that was published in the journal.

There has been no shortage of passion surrounding the creation of the National September 11 Memorial Museum at the World Trade Center site in New York City. Invariably, worlds like "challenging" and "controversial" are used to characterized the effort to rebuilding ground zero. The challenges are apparent in the very essence of the project.

This memorial museum is being erected in close proximity to the events it is charged to commemorate - events characterized by unimaginable collective loss.  Key constituencies may still be traumatized by grief, both personal and communal. The museum is being built in the heart of a densely populated urban business and residential district, at the location where the atrocity took place. The information to be presented will be both graphic in its violence and provocative in its implication. At its core, the memorial  museum must carefully balance the act of commemoration - which has its own requirements of sensibility and reverence - with the imperatives of education, historical documentation, and fidelity to the emotionally resonant artifacts on display. Understandably, the planning process has proceeded under extraordinarily intense and, at times, politicized public scrutiny.

These challenges have afforded an opportunity to transform a historical site of atrocity into a site of conscience.

By Michael Frazier, Sr. Communications Manager for the 9/11 Memorial