2019 Mellon Conference

2019 Mellon Conference

The Tribute in Light as seen from Brooklyn. Photo by Kevin Hagen, 9/11 Memorial

Traversing the Gap: Relevance as a Transformative Force at Sites of Public Memory
Second Mellon Conference
June 19–21, 2019
9/11 Memorial & Museum


As time passes between the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the present, efforts to engage the public in making sense of the events, as well as their relationship to them, becomes increasingly difficult. Time distances visitors and those who work on memory-related initiatives from communal traumas and the historic sites that commemorate them, interfering with processes of understanding and empathy.

Due to this phenomenon, our conference explores the concept of “relevance,” as a state of staying connected to a communal trauma to educate, foster growth and encourage empathy. In such a way, memorials, museums and historic sites become not only places of honoring victims but also places that support transformation at the individual and cultural levels.

Within memorial and museum environments, opportunities arise for awareness, new learning and activism across gaps of time and social location, such as race, gender, ability and sexuality. Regardless of the tactics or the pathways in which relevance emerges for audiences, we take interest in relevance as an endeavor to make sense of life events and the self, as the thinking and feeling undertaken to better understand the present world and the recent past.

At this meeting, speakers and panels will examine the cultural institutions, educational interventions, theoretical models, archives, bodies and texts that contend with cultivating connectivity, interaction and meaningful engagement with a wide range of audiences.


Registration is required to gain entry into the Museum. The conference will take place in the Museum's Auditorium and Education Center.

Participants, guests and interested individuals can register at the following link. We will accommodate registration of non-presenters on a space-available basis.

Please register here.


To get your Museum ticket:

Tickets can be picked up the Museum ticket windows.

When you arrive, enter through the regular admission lines. When you get to the windows, provide your name and ID to staff. They will provide you with a ticket for Museum entry.

To get to the Education Center:

Once you have your ticket, pass through security screening and take the escalator or stairs down one level to the Information Desk in Concourse Lobby.

Locate the bank of elevators to the right of the Information Desk. Take the elevator down to the C4 level. Exit the elevator vestibule and make a right, heading toward Tribute Walk and the South Tower Galleries.

As you walk along the perimeter of the South Tower Galleries, the Education Center will be the third entryway on your left (following the Memorial Exhibition and Rebirth at Ground Zero).



New York City is served by three major international airports:

  • From LaGuardia: Taxi service is available on the Arrivals level of each terminal; car services pick up in an area in the Terminal B parking garage. Alternatively, buses leave the terminal every 10–15 minutes and connect with a number of subway lines.
  • From JFK: Taxis are available; alternatively, the JFK Airtrain will connect you to the A train at the Howard Beach Station which runs into lower Manhattan.
  • From Newark: The Airtrain will take you to NJ Transit’s Airport Station, where the PATH will take you to the World Trade Center.

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum is served by a number of buses, subway lines and ferries. More information, as well as a map, can be found here.





Arrival and Registration (Museum Atrium)
1:30–2:30 p.m. 

Welcome (Auditorium)
2:30–2:45 p.m. 
Noah Rauch, Senior Vice President, Education & Public Programs, 9/11 Memorial & Museum

Museum Tour
2:45–3:45 p.m. 

Coffee Break (Café Area)
3:45–4:15 p.m.

Keynote (Auditorium)
4:15–5:45 p.m.

The Future of Museums: Love Calls Us to the Things of This World 
Dr. Lisa Yun Lee, Executive Director, National Public Housing Museum; Associate Professor, UIC School of Art & Art History

Reception (NYU’s La Maison Française)
6:30–8 p.m. 

Please join us at NYU’s La Maison Française for drinks and light food. La Maison Française is located at 16 Washington Mews (at University Place).

From the Museum, walk east on Cortlandt Way to the R/W subway entrance on Cortlandt Street and Church Street. Take the northbound train—you’ll see signs for Forest Hills Queens or Lexington Ave/59th Street—four stops. Get off at 8th Street NYU and walk west on East 8th Street. Make a left on University Place. Veer right on Washington Mews and look for the entrance La Maison Française.



Coffee and Pastries (Museum Café)
8:30–9 a.m. 

Panel Set A (Education Center)
9–10:30 a.m. 

Narratives, Trauma, and Public Memory

The Storytelling as Template for Relevance at Sites of Public Memory
Dr. Neli Dobreva, University Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne, École des arts de la Sorbonne 

Narrating Memorials: Relevance, Dissensus, and Re-Remembering in British, Canadian and Australian Great War Fiction
Anna Branach-Kallas, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń, Poland, and University of Toronto 

Affective Approaches to Trauma at Places of 9/11 Heritage: Pedagogical Reflections on “Feeling your Feelings”
Jacque Micieli-Voutsinas, Center for Gender, Race and Area Studies, Clark University 

Moderator: Bryan Zehngut-Willits, 9/11 Memorial & Museum

Relevance in Transnational Contexts and Audiences

The Relevance of Daily Life Museums of Communism: The Absent Museum of Communism of Bucharest
Caterina Preda, University of Bucharest 

The Cultural Dynamics of Relevance in Different Cultural Contexts: Germany, Japan, Spain, Yugoslavia and Turkey
Mark A. Wolfgram, University of Ottawa 

“Probably the most relevant museum I’ve ever visited”: Visitor Responses to the 9/11 Museum
Amy Sodaro, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY 

Moderator: William Raff, 9/11 Memorial & Museum

Conceiving Public Memory

Public Memorials in the Context of Bergson’s Theory of Memory
Nan Darbous Marthaller, American Military University 

On Public Spaces: Knowing and Unknowing Familiarity
Brenda Trofonenko, Arcadia University

The Key to Relevance: Transforming Memorials through Collective Memory
Melissa A. Ignacio, California State University Los Angeles

Moderator: Deborah A. Smith, University of Maine, Orono

“Conflicted” Movements through Memorial Spaces

Empathy or Indifference?: Reinterpretation and Recontextualization of Urban Monuments and the Conflicted Role of the Engaged Tourist
Elizabeth Carnegie and Jerzy Kociatkiewicz, The University of Sheffield, England

"Giving Peace a Chance" Peace Trails: Politics and Challenges
Joyce Apsel, New York University, Liberal Studies

Moderator: TBA

Panel Set B (Education Center)
10:45 a.m.–12:15 p.m.

Commemorating Lynching, Assassination and Domestic Terrorism

Stephen Fagin, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, Dallas
Kari Watkins, Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum
David McKenzie, Ford’s Theatre Society 

Moderator: Kenneth Foote, University of Connecticut

Youth Engagement and Representations of Children

Witness the Children: Atrocity, Tragedy, and Child Victims in U.S. Public Memory
Bradford Vivian, Pennsylvania State University

Cultivating Relevance for Children at Two 9/11 Sites: Understanding Experiences and Influencing Content
Rebecca H. Price and Mary Margaret Kerr, University of Pittsburgh 

Education and the Canadian National Holocaust Monument
Heather B. O’Reilly 

Moderator: TBA

Re-Imagining Sites of Public Memory in Light of the Present

Monumentalization of the Memory of the Portuguese Colonial War
André Caiado, Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra

We Don’t Need Another Hero(ine)?: The Quest to Commemorate Women Veterans of the Vietnam War
Monika Żychlińska, Institute of Sociology, University of Warsaw

Digital Monuments: Technology and Memorialization at the 9/11 Memorial Museum
Alex Drakakis and Lisa Conte, 9/11 Memorial & Museum

Moderator: Amy Sodaro, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY

12:15–1:30 p.m.

Panel Set C (Education Center)
1:30–2:45 p.m.

The Virtualization of Public Memory

Chicago00: The Eastland Disaster
John Russick, Chicago History Museum

Material Trauma, Virtual Memory: The Digital Future of 9/11
Lindsay Anne Balfour, Concordia University

On, Off, or Under the Pedestal: Reimagining Contested Memorials Sites in Augmented Reality
Jill Strauss, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY

Moderator: Cath Goulding, 9/11 Memorial & Museum

Encountering Death

Memory in Action: Cultivating Memory in Jewish cemeteries in Poland
Teresa Klimowicz, Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin, Poland

Mourning’s Role in Relevance at Sites of Public Memory
Deborah A. Smith, University of Maine, Orono

Teaching Americans and the Holocaust: Archiving as Public Sphere Pedagogy
George D. Dalbo, University of Minnesota

Moderator: Stephanie Arel, 9/11 Memorial & Museum

Legacies of Mass Violence in Public Places

“No Tears Left to Cry:” Analyzing Relevance and Performance of the Rock Concert Memorial
Dr. Michelle Pauken Cromer, Rockwall High School 

A Step Forward: Remembrance, Reckoning, and the Labyrinth at Boston’s Armenian Heritage Park
Makenna D. H. Daniels, Boston University School of Theology

Public Memory and Relevance: Managing Trauma and Tourists At Port Arthur Historic Site, In Tasmania, Australia
Rosemary Hollow, University of Canberra

Moderator: Joyce Apsel, New York University

Panel Set D (Education Center)
3–4:30 p.m.

Memorials for People

Warrie Price, The Battery Conservancy
Tom Finkelpearl, Department of Cultural Affairs New York City
Traci Sanders, WXY

Moderator: David van der Leer, DVDL Design Decisions

Contested Memorials and the Politicization of Public Memory

A Conflict of Remembrance: The Maarjamäe Memorial and The Estonian Victims of Communism Memorial, So Close Yet So Far
Brent McKenzie, University of Guelph

Relevance and the Control of History
Rabbi Joseph A. Edelheit, St. Cloud State University

Moderator: Caterina Preda, University of Bucharest

Art-Based Practices in Sites of Public Memory

How Does Art Continue to Make Relevant Sites of Trauma: Examples of a Re-appropriation of the Monument as Work of Art at Sites of Trauma in Regions Across Former Yugoslavia
Dr. Manca Bajec

Excavating Absence to “Build” Memory Traces
Nawel Sebih, IRCAV, University of Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris 3)

The Relevant Art Museum
Juliana Dwek, Princeton University Art Museum

Moderator: Lindsay Anne Balfour, Concordia University

Coffee Break (Café Area)
4:30–5 p.m.

Keynote (Auditorium) 
5–6:30 p.m.

From the Past to the Future: Cognitive and Neural Changes in Temporal Processing Following Trauma
Dr. Adam Brown, Associate Professor of Psychology at the New School for Social Research and Director of the Trauma and Global Mental Health Lab


Coffee and Pastries (Museum Café)
9–9:30 a.m. 

Keynote (Auditorium)
9:30–11 a.m.

Witnessing Difficult Pasts: Commemorative Justice, Memory-Work and a Place-Based Ethics of Care
Dr. Karen Till, Professor of Cultural Geography, Maynooth University Ireland, and Co-Convenor of the Mapping Spectral Traces Network

Panel Set E (Education Center)
11:15 a.m.–12:45 p.m. 

From Past to Present: Building Relevance at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum 
Nancy Gillette, Special Exhibitions Manager, USHMM
Michael Haley Goldman, Director of Future Projects, USHMM
Silvina Fernandez-Duque, Product Manager, USHMM
Jackie Scutari, Program Manager, Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, USHMM

Moderator: Will be assigned by USHMM team

Pedagogical Approaches to Engaging Historic Violence

From “Sioux Massacres” to “Dakota Genocide:” Teaching About the U.S.-Dakota War Across Space and Time
George Dalbo and Joseph Eggers, Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, University of Minnesota

Educational Interventions and Sites of Public Memory in Nigeria
Nathaniel Umukoro, Edo University Iyamho, Nigeria

(De)Standardizing Education with Sites of Public Memory
Kristin A. Rutter, Clark Montessori High School

Moderator: Brenda Trofonenko, Arcadia University

The Prison and Concentration Camp as a Site of Public Memory

Memorializing the Incarcerated: The Sing Sing Prison Museum
Roger Panetta, History Professor Emeritus, Fordham University, Columbia University, and New York University

From French National Monument to Site of European Heritage: A New State of Relevance for the Konzentationslager Natzweiler / KLNa
Diana Mara Henry

Witnesses’ Counter-Narratives: Reworking Relationships After Atrocity
Dennis B. Klein, Kean University

Moderator: Rabbi Joseph A. Edelheit, St. Cloud State University

12:45–2:15 p.m.

Panel Set F (Education Center)
2:15–3:45 p.m.

Unexpected Connections: The Relevance of the 9/11 Experience to Japan’s 3/11 Triple Disaster Experience

Genesis of a Cross-Cultural Vision to Support the Psychological Needs of 3/11 Survivors
Dr. Robert Yanagisawa, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Tohoku University, Tokyo Women’s Medical University, and the Japanese Medical Society of America

Relevance of 9/11 Community's Outreach for Japan
H. E. Koji Abe, Consulate General of Japan in New York

Remembering 3/11 Through Learning: Research to Help Guide the Future
Dr. Craig Katz, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Evolving Relevance of a Symbol of Peace: The Origami Crane 1955 – the Present
David Janes, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University

Relevance of Remembering and Moving Forward: Connecting 9/11 and 3/11
Meriam Lobel, formerly of 9/11 Tribute Museum

Moderator: Meriam Lobel

New Pathways in Holocaust Memorialization

Sobibór Death Camp: Archaeology, Public Memory and Narratives
Hannah Wilson, Nottingham Trent University

Beth Shalom: Creating Relevance and Meaning in an Unlikely Landscape
Elizabeth Kendrick, Nottingham Trent University

The Muranów District as a Memorial of the Former Warsaw Ghetto
Judith Vöcker, University of Leicester

Reigniting Relevance: Recent Approaches to Memorial Heritage
Bill Niven, Nottingham Trent University

Moderator: Will be assigned by panel group

Reconciliation and Healing

Public Memory and Meaningful Memorialization: Memorial Museums, Sites, and Spaces in Post-Genocide Rwanda
Samantha Lakin, Clark University

Narratives as Means of Relevance: The Process of Recovering Human Bonds in Public Memory Sites
Fiorenza Loiacono, University of Bari

Repair Work: Oral History at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum
Amy Weinstein, 9/11 Memorial & Museum

Moderator: Rabbi Joseph A. Edelheit, St. Cloud State University

Coffee Break (Museum Café)

3:45–4:15 p.m.

Closing Roundtable (Education Center)
4:15–5:45 p.m.

Dr. Edward Berenson, New York University + Keynotes: Drs. Lisa Yun Lee, Adam Brown, and Karen Till

Informal Reception (Eataly)
6 p.m.

Please join us at Eataly for an informal final gathering to close the conference. Eataly is located at the top of the 4 World Trade Center, 101 Liberty Street, third floor. The entrance is at 101 Liberty Street, situated between Church and Greenwich streets.


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