For an exhibition professional, there is great satisfaction in seeing visitors in the galleries of the 9/11 Memorial Museum. As a whole, our visitors are attentive, engaged in dialogue with those with whom they came, and visibly moved by the artifacts, images, sounds, and text they encounter. Visitors sometimes tell us directly that the museum had meaning for them. They say “thank you” to the security guard at the exit. They inscribe in our digital guest book, “Perfect museum, really great, couldn’t be better in any way.” They record a message in our recording booths, letting us know that the museum is “important for generations to come.”
Last week, recognition for the 9/11 Museum’s efforts came from another quarter. The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) announced that the museum will be honored for Extraordinary Cultural Achievement at its Thea Awards Gala in March. TEA’s incoming president, Steve Birket, says of the awards, “Each Thea-honored project represents a step forward in our industry and our collective drive toward excellence in the making of compelling experiences and places.” The award jury particularly praised the museum for the way it “conveys its important story with eloquence and emotional power while allowing for thoughtful reflection, learning, and tribute by every visitor.”
In March, when we accept the award in Anaheim, Calif., along with 16 other exemplary museums, entertainment centers, and individuals, we will do so with gratitude for the recognition but especially in honor of our visitors, who every day teach us about the museum’s potential.
By Amy Weisser, 9/11 Memorial Museum Vice President for Exhibitions