Behind the Scenes of Museum’s Newest Exhibition: Hope at Ground Zero

A man stands on an orange ladder as he installs the exhibition “Hope at Ground Zero.” About a dozen FEMA photographs of Ground Zero have been positioned on a white wall in front of the man.
Installation of the new special exhibition Hope at Ground Zero: FEMA Photographs by Andrea Booher.

Today the new special exhibition Hope at Ground Zero: FEMA Photographs by Andrea Booher opened in the 9/11 Memorial Museum’s south tower gallery. Featuring the work of Andrea Booher, a film producer and photojournalist dispatched by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to document ground zero after 9/11, the exhibition will remain on view through May 2017.

Arriving on Sept. 12, 2001, Booher spent 10 weeks at the site. The exhibition includes 62 images, along with the credentials she used to access the site during the rescue and recovery period. To the visitor, this exhibition may appear to have emerged in the space over night, but there were many steps in the installation process to bring this exhibition to life.

The previous gallery in the exhibition space was uninstalled. We were careful to tape out the space in order to accommodate all of the images and design elements. Installers pieced together wall murals panels, checking for straightness and the absence of air bubbles. The installers then used laser tape measures to lay out the photograph panels and text labels—moving down the wall, installing image by image. We applied vinyl text to the wall, using quotes from rescue and recovery workers to give the exhibition an added layer of content. The lighting designers tweaked the fixtures to appropriately light groupings of photographs. With the large-scale murals and photographs installed, the gallery came to life.

The last piece to be installed were two artifacts: Booher’s credentials, which she used to gain access to the site. Our mount makers delicately installed the artifacts into a case.

With all the exhibition elements in place, visitors can now experience a multi-layered environment that sheds light on rescue and recovery operations of ground zero, introduces voices of individual responders, and shares Booher’s perspective with privileged site access. Booher recently spoke with Aspen Public Radio about her experiences at ground zero. 

View some of the photographs in the exhibition

By Nicole Vanchieri, Exhibition Production Coordinator

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