9/11 Memorial Museum

Thirteen years, ten days, and twelve hours ago.

Four planes, three buildings, and three thousand people later.

Three states, two cities, and one nation affected.

Women, men, children, babies, wives, husbands, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, newly weds, recently engaged, uncles, aunts, grandmas, grandpas, family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances dead. ll     I never felt such deep sadness, grief, anguish and heartbreak until I went to the 9/11 Memorial Museum. I went in not knowing what to expect and exited in complete disarray.

Upon entering the museum I walked down a flight of stairs with pictures of the Twin Towers being built. From there everything just started to blend together, but I do remember distinct sections. Among the structures presented from the remains of the towers was the “Survivors’ Stairs”. This stairwell served as an important escape route for many people that day. Most of the damage seen in the photo below was actually due to the recovery period not the attack itself.

“The stairway provides a powerful reference to the survivors’ story as well as a commemoration of the recovery period.”

Top half of the “Survivors’ Stairs”

Bottom half of “Survivors’ Stairs”

In memory of the victims of 9/11 (and also the bombing in 1993) a wall in the exhibit In Memoriam is covered with pictures of those whose lives were lost. There are interactive screens where you can click on someone’s picture and information (if available) pops up. In the middle of the room are artifacts of a few of the victims such as I.D’s, wallets, and even personal belongings that the family donated to the museum.

Another dedication to the victims is a giant quilt made by dozens of people after the attack. The quilt contains pictures of those who perished on the flights, in the towers, in the Pentagon, and the rescue teams.

Remembrance quilt

The last part of the museum contained the most emotional part of it all: the phone call recordings and the images of people choosing to jump to their death. I don’t even know if I can describe the remorse I felt for the victims and their families. Hearing loved ones call to say their final goodbye, to hear their voices one last time, to say how much they love each other, it was a precious moment. Thinking about losing my family is heartbreaking enough, losing them so suddenly and horribly is something I can’t even imagine. You can hear a few of the phone calls here, but just as a warning grab a box of tissues. I will spare you the pictures of the dozen men and women who decided to jump.

“Mark, this is your mom…the news is it’s hijacked by terrorists.”

If you visit New York City the 9/11 Memorial Museum should be on your itinerary. I promise it is worth the visit.

Spencer Finch’s Trying to Remember the Color on That September Morning (2014) consists of 2,983 attempts to replicate in watercolor the shade of blue of the sky on September 11th, one sheet of paper per life lost.

Spencer Finch’s Trying to Remember the Color on That September Morning (2014) This piece consists of 2,983 attempts (in watercolor) to replicate the shade of the blue sky on September 11th – one sheet of paper per life lost.

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Traditional vs. New Museum Website Formats

By Alyssa Cupp and Annelise McKechnie

Traditional:

The website for the Smithsonian Natural History Museum (http://www.mnh.si.edu/) is well designed.  The format of their website is clear and easy to navigate.  The information is also laid out concisely giving the viewer easy access to the information they are seeking.  There are good overviews of the different exhibits; which are informative, easy to understand and leave you wanting to visit the exhibit.  Another interesting ability the website has is that you can search different disciplines that are in the museum and see what artifacts the museum has pertaining to said discipline.  For example, if you were to look under archaeology you could find pictures and basic information on artifacts such as; where the artifact was found, who found it and when it was made.

In class we’ve discussed how education is playing a greater role in museums than it has in the past and like other museums we have talked about The Natural History Museum has integrated education into their website (http://www.mnh.si.edu/education/index.html).  The Museum uses a website called Q?rius, which is a site specifically for teachers to help them plan visits to the museum.  There are suggestions on lesson plans to help create activities for students while at the different exhibits as well as online activities.  There are also links to more information on the exhibits that you can read before visiting the actual museums.  There are also different fieldtrip programs for classes to go on.  There are also different online mini tutorials about specific subjects pertaining to such topics as volcanic ash and tectonic plates.  I personally like the Natural History Museums setup, I like the straight forward way the information is available and accessible.

New:

The Hirshhorn is another example of a museum website that was well put together (http://www.hirshhorn.si.edu/collection/home/). As blouinartinfo.com states, “as the most recent of the high-profile museum Web site overhauls, the Hirshhorn’s feels the most of-the-moment.” The site has an eye-catching square tile format that scrolls horizontally which resembles that of Windows 8. The website also has many images to give it a Pinterest vibe, which is a refreshing change. Even though it appeals more to the new generation it has a simplicity that the older generations would be able to grasp just as well. This format does a great job at representing the Hirshhorn for what it is-a contemporary art museum. The simple but bright white text and quotes on the wide range of tiles adds a nice clear touch as well.

The horizontal scrolling can become overwhelming and seem to never end, but if you utilize the tabs it can be an easy source to navigate. Any information one might want about the history of Hirshhorn is right there and easy to access. Two of the many useful tools the website provides are a collection search and also a library catalogue to further research materials and artists. Due to the Hirshhorn being part of the Smithsonian Institution the link (http://library.si.edu/research) to access the Hirshhorn’s library catalogue directs the user straight to the Smithsonian Library web page. This feature is nice to have, but may become confusing if the user is not aware of the connection between the two museums. The Hirshhorn has information on not only current exhibits but also past and future ones as well. Interviews of the artists can also be found and give the viewers a personal and in-depth description of the artists’ works. The museum itself is very interactive with Artlab+ (http://artlabplus.si.edu/ a program to support teens in building their own creative communities), education programs for teachers, and work, intern, and volunteer opportunities.

The differences between the Smithsonian and the Hirshhorn museum websites are the ways they attract their audiences. The Smithsonian is a professional institution so it reflects that of its reputation on its website. The Hirshhorn on the other hand is up to date on technological advances, which is also a reflection of the museum. The Smithsonian focuses on student education, whereas the Hirshhorn works toward educating teachers. Although their layouts are different they are both easy to navigate and informative. Both museums did a fine job at knowing who their audience is and designed their websites accordingly.