9/11 Museum’s 20th Anniversary Exhibits Victim of Outages


Museum officials said the September 11 Memorial and Museum in Lower Manhattan has canceled special exhibition plans to commemorate the 20th anniversary of perhaps the most traumatic day in modern American history.

Discount means the nonprofit museum of a serious budget crisis deductions including leave and layoffs It affects about 60 percent of its staff.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, curators had discussed a major anniversary exhibition that examined the role of music in uniting Americans after 9/11 and other tragedies, such as the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. But when more than half of the exhibit section was laid off, museum leaders considered the project. put it on the shelf.

A spokesperson, Lee Cochran, said the decision was to focus on the “essential museum experience” – existing permanent exhibits that increase participation.

Executives said the layoffs and removal of special anniversary programs were approved by the agency’s president, former mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

“The leadership has put together the best possible plan to move forward during this extraordinarily challenging time,” Bloomberg representative Marc La Vorgna said in a statement, adding that Bloomberg personally donated $30 million to the museum and raised another $15 million for the institution. Pandemic.

“The Board supported and approved the plans necessary to prevent long-term damage to this vital institution and to preserve its mission to commemorate and honor the victims of 9/11,” La Vorgna said.

A planned traveling exhibition about the history of 9/11 has been replaced with a downloadable exhibit posters It was created in partnership with the American Library Association.

The museum and memorial will continue to be read live by the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed on September 11, 2001, when the terrorist group Al Qaeda hijacked several planes and used them as weapons. Two crashed into the World Trade Center towers and the third flew into the Pentagon. A fourth plane was en route to Washington, but passengers and crew responded by landing on a field in Pennsylvania.

9/11 Museum officials said the special music exhibition was “on hold”. According to former exhibition project manager Jason Allen, the initial ideas included selections from Ariana Grande’s exhibitions. discretion Victims of the 2017 suicide bombing at the Manchester Arena, where he performed in England, and Lorde’s benefit concert For those who lost their lives in the 2019 shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The 9/11 Museum is heavily dependent on ticket sales; Its temporary shutdown and limited capacity left the institution with a deficit of $18 million last year.

Museum and memorial complex due to concerns during the pandemic process canceled plans for annual Tribute in Light He restored the screen in 2020 only after protests and with government help.

The museum’s reopening last September brought some hope for relief, but only saw a drop of visitors. In June, Alice M. Greenwald, its CEO and president said in an interview that turnout was “about 25 percent of our normal size.” Since then, there has been a gradual increase with close to 4,000 visitors last week, compared to an average of 8,500 visitors in 2019.

The museum said it hopes to finish 2021 with a positive cash balance of $21 million through a combination of fundraising, entry revenue and a federal loan, after previously projecting a $36 million deficit for the year in January.

The financial difficulties at the museum are built into the monument’s architecture, which weaves a network of underground galleries across nearly 110,000 square feet beneath two large pools of water. Engineering, safety and maintenance fees account for more than a third of all costs.

Anthoula Katsimatides, a museum trustee who lost his brother John in the attack on the World Trade Center towers said the board’s decision to cut a new program for its 20th anniversary wasn’t right, even though it had to make tough choices during the budget crisis. hard.

“We don’t need bells and whistles,” said Katsimatides. “We go to that institution to pay homage to the dead. This is a serious matter. It doesn’t make things better, whether we have a fancy singer or not. It is important to commemorate the names of our loved ones that we could not do during the Covid-19 period and to come together.”

The commemoration of the 20th anniversary of 9/11 will be held at: Flight 93 National Memorial In Shanksville, PA for those on board that prevented an attack on the US Capitol. at the Kennedy Center in Washington, National Symphony Orchestra It will present a “Remembrance Concert” for the victims of 9/11 and those who have succumbed to Covid.

But some of the 9/11 Museum’s founders criticized the decision to shelve the new anniversary exhibits, saying the museum was frozen in time, a point that revived feuds between old and new-led factions.

Michael Shulan, the museum’s founding creative director, said in an interview that he thinks the museum is reluctant to launch programming for the anniversary that could challenge the current narrative.

“Twenty years is a turning point when one begins to look at things with a certain kind of hindsight,” Shulan said. “Not asking questions only leads to more crises.”

Former museum directors and families of some victims accused the curators of telling a reductive story about the events of 9/11 that did not ask complex questions about terrorism and its consequences that led to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They say the issue has become more topical due to the recent withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

September 11 museum Web site These former employees, who said their mission was to “investigate 9/11, document its impact and examine its continuing significance,” complained that the Greenwald administration had an unusually tight grasp on history, closely following researchers, and limiting freedom of expression on the site.

Diane Horning, mother of a victim, Matthew Horned, has opposed the museum since its opening and said its planners tarnished his memory by building a gift shop on the spot where his son died. Still, he had hoped that the museum would reconsider its curatorial selections for the anniversary and explore the lasting impact of 9/11.

“The deaths didn’t stop after 9/11,” Horning said, referring to the diseases the rescuers caught during the cleanup. “Those who tried to bring my son home and lost their lives as a result should be honored. Undocumented workers sent to clear the ground zero, who fell ill and did not receive help, should be honored.”

(The museum said it built an above-ground memorial glade in 2019 to honor rescuers and those who died from 9/11-related illnesses.)

Elizabeth Miller, the daughter of a firefighter who died on September 11, joined the museum in 2019 as exhibits research coordinator to tell the story of a tragedy that personally affected her family. But he said administrators often reject attempts to introduce new programs that could invite tough conversations about the relationship between the rise of American nationalism and the spike in Islamophobia after 9/11.

“The museum is a historical institution that has an imperative to convey all parts of the story,” Miller said in an interview.

“We are documenting the ongoing effects of 9/11 in all different ways,” museum spokesman Cochran said in an email.

Even before the museum opened, there were creative differences. According to five people close to the controversies, they originally had plans to devote a chapter to 9/11’s impact on American society: for example, how it changed nationalism; how it relates to the concept of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; and what intentions lie behind the “war on terror”? This plan was shelved during negotiations when museum developers felt the pressure to produce a definitive narrative. The resulting core exhibition uses artifacts, recordings and images to discuss the attacks and the immediate aftermath.

Tom Hennes a director of Slim Design and the museum’s original chief exhibit designer said he twice left the project due to creative differences with other directors, including Greenwald.

“Initially we understood that the museum definitely needed to evolve, as we were at the beginning of an evolving situation,” Hennes said.

Michael Frazier, who left as the museum’s deputy foreign affairs director in April more than a decade later and has since produced a gripping film about survivors, said he was surprised by the lack of special programs. “20. The anniversary should be used to plan the future of the institution.”

Greenwald said in an interview that the permanent exhibits were created through eight years of conversations between “equally legitimate, but not necessarily cohesive, groups.” He said that changing key parts of this story could take away from the museum’s mission.

“We are constantly aware that people are extremely sensitive to what is being said about the museum and its history,” he explained. “We pay close attention to what is said.”

An upcoming documentary “Foreign” The film, which will be released online in August, recalls conflicts between museum administrators and features six years of footage from private meetings where some leaders criticized Greenwald’s approach to historic coding.

Created by filmmakers Pamela Yoder and Steven Rosenbaum, the film discusses the unusual restrictions on protests and demonstrations throughout the museum space. (“You cannot sing. It is forbidden to protest and demonstrate on a site where freedom and liberty are celebrated,” he said. Michael Kimmelman wrote in The Times in 2014.)

Documentary makers who donated more than 500 hours of archive recordings of 9/11, one of the museum’s greatest gifts, in 2009, say their understanding is that academics will be free to access the archives. The filmmakers say researchers are asked to sign a contract that gives the museum the right to review and reject scientists’ papers before they’re published. (The museum said research consent form grants the right to review a publication’s ‘description of information’ in advance to ensure its accuracy.)

Lawyers representing the institution recently asked documentarians to remove 36 scenes from “The Outsider,” which the museum described as “inaccuracies and distortions.”

“If someone is going to stray from the facts, then they will be called,” said CEO Greenwald. “There is a desire to make sure that the institution is presented correctly.”

The filmmakers resisted his suggestions. “It was coding, controlling and limiting decisions,” Rosenbaum said.

But these discussions seemed far-fetched on a summer day inside the museum. Visitors said the institution’s current exhibits are powerful tools to teach a generation born after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Some visitors looked at a new painting along the museum’s Tribute Walk. “Stars of the Jungle: Elegy for 9/11” Naoto NakagawaThis work by a New York artist commemorates the victims as stars in the sky. The parents of a flight attendant on American Flight 11, which crashed into the North Tower, helped support its setup.

A visitor, Paula Amaya, led her three young children to cross the massive wall that was built to prevent flooding at the World Trade Center. The family had traveled from Florida to commemorate not only the victims of 9/11 but also those who died during the pandemic.

“It’s a useful place to mourn,” Amaya said. “There is a sad story in the museum, but I wanted my children to understand the history here.”


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