“A triumph of human dignity”: The 9/11 Memorial Museum

In memory of those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, and those who have worked so hard to design and build a fitting tribute, we are republishing this post about the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City.

Sleek buildings greet visitors as they approach the 9/11 Memorial Museum in NYC.

Sleek buildings greet visitors as they approach the 9/11 Memorial Museum in NYC.

We don’t know many New York City visitors who don’t have the National September 11 Memorial Museum at the World Trade Center on their must-do list.  In fact, it’s at the top of many lists of places most people want to see — not because it’s a tourist attraction but because it fulfills this one desire we all have: to honor the nearly 3,000 victims of the attacks on September 11, 2001, and February 26, 1993.  And honor them it does.

Tall monoliths reflected in a steel and glass wall outside the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

Tall monoliths reflected in a steel and glass wall outside the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

The visitor brochure calls the 9/11 Memorial Museum a “a triumph of human dignity.”  And even when you leave the subway to approach the plaza surrounding the museum, you get the sense that this is big.  Really big.  At first, you see construction at ground level — a new transit station, buildings being completed, cranes and yellow tape marking off places you can’t and should walk.  But when you look up — and you will — you are rewarded with a spectacular view of steel and glass marvels of modern architecture.

Squarely inside the plaza, we moved toward where people were gathered around massive pools of water to read names of victims etched in the peripheral walls.  And we weren’t the only ones talking in whispers.

Awesome view from plaza beside 9/11 Memorial Museum

Awesome view from plaza beside 9/11 Memorial Museum

Names of victims frame pools outside the 9/11 Memorial Museum

Names of victims frame pools outside the 9/11 Memorial Museum

A cityscape frames the pools of water at 9/11 Memorial Museum.

A cityscape forms the backdrop for the dramatic pools of water at 9/11 Memorial Museum.

We wondered how so many people in line could fit inside the museum.  But we soon found out.  Four floors provide vast, open exhibit space for artifacts, salvaged materials, and memorial photos.  And we were amazed at how that space impacts visitors as they look upward and all around.  You move at your own pace while taking long looks at the remains of a disaster that touched us all.

View from above of salvaged artifacts and tributes to victims

View from above of salvaged artifacts and tributes to victims.

Survivors' Stairs near the Tribute Walk

Survivors’ Stairs near the Tribute Walk

Mosaic wall with quote: "No day shall erase you from the memory of time."

Mosaic wall with quote from Virgil: “No day shall erase you from the memory of time.”

Salvaged wall from World Trade Center

Salvaged wall from World Trade Center

We stopped and stayed for a while in the space known as In Memoriam where visitors can stand or sit to view videos and listen to recordings by family members as they remember their loved ones.

Wall of photos -- part of In Memoriam

Wall of photos — part of In Memoriam

Artists — from schoolchildren to the world-renowned Red Grooms — provided interpretations of the tragedies with tapestries, collages, canvases, quilts and more.

At the end of our tour, we stood silently as we viewed wreckage — raw, open, mangled metal forms — that once were serviceable vehicles and supportive beams turned by fire and the weight of collapsed buildings into twisted, almost unrecognizable forms.

You might think that we would leave depressed.  And we were saddened by what we had seen. But this whole endeavor – the collecting, designing, displaying, and memorializing — contributed wholly to the mission stated in the visitor information: to “bear solemn witness” and to “honor the victims.”  It does all that and so much more.

A tribute to America in 9/11 Memorial Museum

A tribute to the strength and resiliency of America: 9/11 Memorial Museum

For more information:

The National September 11 Memorial Museum at the World Trade Center, 180 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10007; 911memorial.org

Recommended:  Download the apps and guides: http://www.911memorial.org/apps prior to your visit.

Boomer Travel:  Most of the Memorial Museum is easily accessible for all, but lines can be long.  Also, be prepared to stand inside for entry into some of the popular areas. The Museum is wheelchair accessible with manual wheelchairs available on a first-come, first-serve basis.  The Audio Guide is VoiceOver compatible.  Large print materials are available at the desk.  Service dogs are welcome.

We’ve compiled our remembrances from a December 2015 trip to New York City under the Travel Series heading:  Christmas Holiday 2015.  Hope you’ll join us in reliving good times in the Big Apple!  — Bert and Rusha

About Oh, the Places We See

Met at University of Tennessee, been married for 47 years, and still passionate about travel whether we're volunteering with Habitat Global Village, combining work at Discovery with pleasure, or just seeing the world. Hope you'll join us as we try to see it all while we can!
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28 Responses to “A triumph of human dignity”: The 9/11 Memorial Museum

  1. Beautifully and delicately shared. Thank you.

  2. Parul Thakur says:

    Heart-warming and yes, painful.
    When I visited NY in early 201, this was under construction. My my hotel room, I could see ground zero and all was barricaded. If I get a chance to visit NY again, I would not miss this. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thank you for giving those of us a chance to see this, that might never have otherwise. A beautiful tribute that fulfills a need that we all have: to remember and honor.

  4. Thanks so much Rusha for a very appropriate and touching blog. I’ve put the museum on my list for the next visit to NYC. –Curt

  5. I had heard of the museum Rusha, but hadn’t seen photos. It looks like a striking tribute to the victims. When we visited NYC, the area was a gaping hole with chain link. This makes a very memorable improvement. Thanks for the photo tour. ~James

    • I would like to tell people they will like this museum, but like just isn’t the right word. It’s an awe-inspiring collection of artifacts and chronology of events that inspire reflection and contemplation, and something we all need to see and consider. Hopefully, you’ll get a chance to visit. Thanks for your comments, as always.

  6. Kevin Brent says:

    One day, I will get there. But, thank you for sharing this with us in the meantime.

  7. Thank you, Rusha and Bert, for sharing this important memorial.

  8. Amy says:

    Thank you for the post and the virtual tour, Rusha. Sobbing memory…

  9. ralietravels says:

    Good blog. Good photos. Thanks.

  10. We have not seen the new memorial but did visit when it had been cleared and all that was left was the giant hole where the twin towers stood. There was a tall chain link fence around the entire area and families had left photos, flowers, and other small things stuffed in the chain link. There were hundreds of people there that day, and you could have heard a pin drop. Another visit is definitely on our travel list. Thank you for sharing your trip. 🙂

    • Judy, we also saw this when it was a hole in the ground. And you’re right, you could hear a pin drop. But the memorial is as good as it gets in paying tribute to victims, their families and the survivors who supported the efforts on 9.11 and afterwards. I could visit this again and see something different every time. Thanks for taking a look.

  11. dawnkinster says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us. I may never make it to NYC but if I do, this is first on my list of must sees.

    • It was more than just an artsy experience as we looked at art and architecture and the mechanics of displaying all these artifacts. It’s really a moving experience as you begin to grasp what the victims and survivors felt that day. Please do try to see it. Thanks for the comment!

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