9/11 Gallery


of an Exhibition

by Bill Watson

Published on April 20, 2008

  • Description:

    The 9/11 Gallery occupies approximately 1,500 square feet with an adjacent theater. The centerpiece of the gallery is part of the communication tower from the top of one of the World Trade Center buildings that fell in the attacks of 9/11/2001. The tower is clearly mangled from the attack and stands as a powerful first-hand connection to that day. The object itself seems very appropriate at the Newseum because before it fell, 10 television stations in the New York City area relied on it to transmit their signals. Consistent with the quote found elsewhere in the Newseum that “the news is the first draft of history” (Philip Graham), it is curated simply, with about 10 AP news alerts – very little interpretation – and one picture arranged on a railing around the tower. The events are arranged by the time at which they were reported (not at which they occurred).

    This was a moving experience for me, and from what I could gather, it was similar for the other visitors there when I visited. There was a quiet around the exhibition that was unusual for the Newseum, and everyone seemed to be patient in waiting for visitors to finish their time reading the news headlines that surrounded the tower.

    Most of the Newseum exhibitions reminded me of the feeling I get when picking up a Sunday newspaper: So much information that I couldn’t possibly take it in within a reasonable amount of time so it all starts to run together, so I pick and choose. The 9/11 Gallery was different in that it was not overwhelming. The communications tower, as an object, spoke for itself, and it was refreshing that the curators let it do so. From my perspective, the rest of the exhibition experience – the newspaper headlines, a photo collage, camera equipment used on that day, the theater – exists to support the moving visitor connection to and experience around the tower.

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