Sunny
57°
Sunny
Hi 58° | Lo 35°

9/11 museum offers sights and sounds of tragedy, opens to public next week

  • In this May 5, 2014 photo released by the National September 11 Memorial Museum, a firetruck, damaged in the attacks of September 11, 2001, is on display at the New York museum. The long-delayed museum will be dedicated during a ceremony Thursday, May 15, 2014. (AP Photo/ National September 11 Memorial Museum, Jin Lee)

    In this May 5, 2014 photo released by the National September 11 Memorial Museum, a firetruck, damaged in the attacks of September 11, 2001, is on display at the New York museum. The long-delayed museum will be dedicated during a ceremony Thursday, May 15, 2014. (AP Photo/ National September 11 Memorial Museum, Jin Lee)

  • The only existing model of the World Trade Center is displayed at the National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum, Wednesday, May 14, 2014, in New York. The museum is a monument to how the Sept. 11 terror attacks shaped history, from its heart-wrenching artifacts to the underground space that houses them amid the remnants of the fallen twin towers' foundations. It also reflects the complexity of crafting a public understanding of the terrorist attacks and reconceiving ground zero.  (AP Photo)

    The only existing model of the World Trade Center is displayed at the National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum, Wednesday, May 14, 2014, in New York. The museum is a monument to how the Sept. 11 terror attacks shaped history, from its heart-wrenching artifacts to the underground space that houses them amid the remnants of the fallen twin towers' foundations. It also reflects the complexity of crafting a public understanding of the terrorist attacks and reconceiving ground zero. (AP Photo)

  • In this May 5, 2014 photo released by the National September 11 Memorial Museum, a piece of airplane damaged in the attacks of September 11, 2001, is displayed at the New York museum. The long-delayed museum will be dedicated during a ceremony Thursday, May 15, 2014. (AP Photo/National September 11 Memorial Museum, Jin Lee)

    In this May 5, 2014 photo released by the National September 11 Memorial Museum, a piece of airplane damaged in the attacks of September 11, 2001, is displayed at the New York museum. The long-delayed museum will be dedicated during a ceremony Thursday, May 15, 2014. (AP Photo/National September 11 Memorial Museum, Jin Lee)

  • Steel from the World Trader Center north tower floors 97 and 98, left, is displayed at the National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum, Wednesday, May 14, 2014, in New York. The museum is a monument to how the Sept. 11 terror attacks shaped history, from its heart-wrenching artifacts to the underground space that houses them amid the remnants of the fallen twin towers' foundations. It also reflects the complexity of crafting a public understanding of the terrorist attacks and reconceiving ground zero.  (AP Photo)

    Steel from the World Trader Center north tower floors 97 and 98, left, is displayed at the National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum, Wednesday, May 14, 2014, in New York. The museum is a monument to how the Sept. 11 terror attacks shaped history, from its heart-wrenching artifacts to the underground space that houses them amid the remnants of the fallen twin towers' foundations. It also reflects the complexity of crafting a public understanding of the terrorist attacks and reconceiving ground zero. (AP Photo)

  • Portraits of the Al-Qaeda hijackers are displayed at the National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum, Wednesday, May 14, 2014, in New York. The museum is a monument to how the Sept. 11 terror attacks shaped history, from its heart-wrenching artifacts to the underground space that houses them amid the remnants of the fallen twin towers' foundations. It also reflects the complexity of crafting a public understanding of the terrorist attacks and reconceiving ground zero.  (AP Photo)

    Portraits of the Al-Qaeda hijackers are displayed at the National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum, Wednesday, May 14, 2014, in New York. The museum is a monument to how the Sept. 11 terror attacks shaped history, from its heart-wrenching artifacts to the underground space that houses them amid the remnants of the fallen twin towers' foundations. It also reflects the complexity of crafting a public understanding of the terrorist attacks and reconceiving ground zero. (AP Photo)

  • A portion of the World Trade Center slurry wall, left, and the symbolic last beam, are displayed at the National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum, Wednesday, May 14, 2014, in New York. The museum is a monument to how the Sept. 11 terror attacks shaped history, from its heart-wrenching artifacts to the underground space that houses them amid the remnants of the fallen twin towers' foundations. It also reflects the complexity of crafting a public understanding of the terrorist attacks and reconceiving ground zero.  (AP Photo)

    A portion of the World Trade Center slurry wall, left, and the symbolic last beam, are displayed at the National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum, Wednesday, May 14, 2014, in New York. The museum is a monument to how the Sept. 11 terror attacks shaped history, from its heart-wrenching artifacts to the underground space that houses them amid the remnants of the fallen twin towers' foundations. It also reflects the complexity of crafting a public understanding of the terrorist attacks and reconceiving ground zero. (AP Photo)

  • In this May 5, 2014 photo released by the National September 11 Memorial Museum, a firetruck, damaged in the attacks of September 11, 2001, is on display at the New York museum. The long-delayed museum will be dedicated during a ceremony Thursday, May 15, 2014. (AP Photo/ National September 11 Memorial Museum, Jin Lee)
  • The only existing model of the World Trade Center is displayed at the National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum, Wednesday, May 14, 2014, in New York. The museum is a monument to how the Sept. 11 terror attacks shaped history, from its heart-wrenching artifacts to the underground space that houses them amid the remnants of the fallen twin towers' foundations. It also reflects the complexity of crafting a public understanding of the terrorist attacks and reconceiving ground zero.  (AP Photo)
  • In this May 5, 2014 photo released by the National September 11 Memorial Museum, a piece of airplane damaged in the attacks of September 11, 2001, is displayed at the New York museum. The long-delayed museum will be dedicated during a ceremony Thursday, May 15, 2014. (AP Photo/National September 11 Memorial Museum, Jin Lee)
  • Steel from the World Trader Center north tower floors 97 and 98, left, is displayed at the National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum, Wednesday, May 14, 2014, in New York. The museum is a monument to how the Sept. 11 terror attacks shaped history, from its heart-wrenching artifacts to the underground space that houses them amid the remnants of the fallen twin towers' foundations. It also reflects the complexity of crafting a public understanding of the terrorist attacks and reconceiving ground zero.  (AP Photo)
  • Portraits of the Al-Qaeda hijackers are displayed at the National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum, Wednesday, May 14, 2014, in New York. The museum is a monument to how the Sept. 11 terror attacks shaped history, from its heart-wrenching artifacts to the underground space that houses them amid the remnants of the fallen twin towers' foundations. It also reflects the complexity of crafting a public understanding of the terrorist attacks and reconceiving ground zero.  (AP Photo)
  • A portion of the World Trade Center slurry wall, left, and the symbolic last beam, are displayed at the National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum, Wednesday, May 14, 2014, in New York. The museum is a monument to how the Sept. 11 terror attacks shaped history, from its heart-wrenching artifacts to the underground space that houses them amid the remnants of the fallen twin towers' foundations. It also reflects the complexity of crafting a public understanding of the terrorist attacks and reconceiving ground zero.  (AP Photo)

The museum devoted to the story of Sept. 11 tells it in victims’ last voicemails, in photos of people falling from the twin towers, in the scream of sirens, in the dust-covered shoes of those who fled the skyscrapers’ collapse, in the wristwatch of one of the airline passengers who confronted the hijackers.

By turns chilling and heartbreaking, a place of both deathly silence and distressing sounds, the National September 11 Memorial Museum opens this week deep beneath ground zero, 12½ years after the terrorist attacks.

The project was marked by construction problems, financial squabbles and disputes over the appropriate way to honor the nearly 3,000 people killed in New York City, Washington, D.C., and the Pennsylvania countryside.

Whatever the challenges in conceiving it, “you won’t walk out of this museum without a feeling that you understand humanity in a deeper way,” museum President Joe Daniels said yesterday.

The privately operated museum – built along with the memorial plaza above for $700 million in donations and tax dollars – will be dedicated today with a visit from President Obama and will be open initially to victims’ families, survivors and first responders. It will open to the public Wednesday.

Charles Wolf, who lost his wife, Katherine, planned to be at the ceremonial opening.

“I’m looking forward to tomorrow, and I’m dreading tomorrow,” he said yesterday. “It brings everything up.”

Visitors start in an airy pavilion where the rusted tops of two of the World Trade Center’s trident-shaped columns shoot upward. From there, stairs and ramps lead people on an unsettling journey into 9/11.

First, a dark corridor is filled with the voices of people remembering the day. Then visitors find themselves looking over a cavernous space, 70 feet below ground, at the last steel column removed during the ground zero cleanup – a totem covered with the numbers of police precincts and firehouses and other messages.

Descend farther – past the battered “survivors’ staircase” that hundreds used to escape the burning towers – and there are such artifacts as a mangled piece of the antenna from atop the trade center and a fire truck with its cab shorn off.

And then, through a revolving door, visitors are plunged into the chaos of Sept. 11: fragments of planes, a teddy bear left at the impromptu memorials that arose after the attacks, video of the twin towers collapsing and people running from plumes of dust, footage of an astronaut solemnly describing the smoke plume from high above Earth (“I just wanted the folks to know that their city still looks very beautiful from space,” Frank Culbertson says), and the sounds of emergency radio transmissions and office workers calling loved ones.

Sprinkled among stories of heroism are snippets about the hijackers, including photos of all 19 on an inconspicuous panel.

“I’m still processing” the effect of seeing the museum, said Anthony Garner, who lost his brother Harvey on 9/11 and visited yesterday. He said it will show visitors “that they’re in a very sacred place and a very historic place.”

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.