By Andy McDonough
On the morning of September 11, 2001, the news media brought us stories of hijacked commercial aircraft and horrific real-time images of the destruction of New York NY’s iconic World Trade Center towers. As the stories unfolded, the world learned more about the heroic actions of the city’s first responders and the efforts of distraught families searching for missing loved ones, while also hearing about more tragedy, and more heroes, at other 9/11 targets in Shanksville PA and Washington DC.
Over the years, a catalog of news images, books and documentary films have helped us better to understand the events of 9/11 and what happened at the lower Manhattan site, known to the world simply as “Ground Zero,” which has since been rebuilt as 1 World Trade Center. Just a few blocks south of the original World Trade Center location is a unique space of masterfully designed galleries integrated with immersive audio and video technology, where visitors can experience the history of 9/11 in a different way—through the stories of its heroes, survivors and the families affected.
History And Design
Created by the non-profit September 11th Families’ Association, which supports the 9/11 community, the 9/11 Tribute Museum shares the personal stories of those affected by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The original 9/11 Tribute Center was located at the site of the former Liberty Deli at 120 Liberty St., directly across from “Ground Zero.” After the attack, the deli transformed into a station where meals were served to rescuers. The association renovated the space in September 2006 as an educational and visitors’ center, offering photos, artifacts and stories shared by the 9/11 community. Last June, it moved to a new, 18,000-square-foot exhibit space at 92 Greenwich St. “The museum galleries present media and artifacts, along with a person-to-person history of the people and events of 9/11, linking all those who want to understand the historic events of 9/11 with those who experienced them,” Kristine Pottinger, the museum’s Program Director, said.
The creative audiovisual solutions at the 9/11 Tribute Museum were implemented by Holmdel NJ-based technology designer and integrator McCann Systems. Sixteen exhibit areas were designed into the open space of the new location as a path of nine galleries by New York-based design firm LH Skolnick Architecture + Design Partners (LHSA+DP). Visitors to the museum are guided by the display layout and overhead elements through galleries in which they learn about topics related to 9/11—from the history of lower Manhattan and the construction of the World Trade Center, to the actual events of 9/11 and their continuing impact on the world.
Technology That Inspires Change
Since its creation, the 9/11 Tribute Museum has welcomed more than four million visitors from around the world. Through digital and in-person storytelling, the museum galleries share authentic, firsthand stories from members of the 9/11 community…both stories of personal tragedy and stories of healing. “AV technology has played a major role at the 9/11 Tribute Museum by enabling visitors to see and hear the stories of those who were there,” the museum’s CEO, Jennifer Adams-Webb, commented. “Through McCann’s work implementing our vision for technology in the galleries, and their close interaction with the designers and operating staff, visitors are able to experience the archive of the important personal stories of the members of our 9/11 community. As a result, many are inspired to make the world a better place.”