The 9/11 Tribute Museum reopens today, Tuesday, June 13, in its new home, at 92 Greenwich Street (near the corner of Rector Street), immediately following a 10:30 am ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The Museum, formerly known as the 9/11 Tribute Center, now expanded and revamped, was founded in 2006 by the September 11th Families Association, a group that began as a confederation of widows and family members of New York City firefighters who perished during the 2001 terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center.
Senior Curator of Exhibits and Public Programs Meriam Lobel explains that, unlike the 9/11 Memorial Museum, which focuses mainly on the day itself and artifacts from the Twin Towers, the Tribute Museum emphasizes sharing the personal stories of family members who lost loved ones, survivors, first responders, recovery workers and community residents.
The first thing visitors sees when ascending the stairs to the Museum’s exhibitions is a quote from the 14th Dalai Lama: “Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects”. This, Ms. Lobel says, is the central theme of the Museum.
From the first responders, firemen and civilian volunteers who worked tirelessly on September 11, 2001, to the people who started scores of organizations in the following months and years to help survivors, families of victims, and people affected by other disasters and traumas, the Museum is a testament to the ability of individuals to have a positive “ripple effect” on local, national, or global communities.
While the overall message of the Museum is one of uplift, many of the galleries are, unsurprisingly, harrowing and emotional. There are kiosks throughout, featuring interviews with family members of victims, survivors who were in the World Trade Center, Lower Manhattan residents, and more.
One of the most moving parts of the presentation is the memorial to those who died that day, which is made up of photos sent in by family members. Some 9/11 memorials overwhelm by their sheer magnitude: an endless list of names that, together, form a picture of incomprehensible human loss and devastation. But this remembrance astonishes and devastates through granular detail: a photo of a father with his children, a woman grinning at the camera, or a man floating on his back in a lake. All show a glimpse of those who died through the eyes of those who loved them the most.
Guided by winding paths, the viewer progresses through multiple galleries, each with a different theme, and all of which are broadly organized by chronology. The presentation begins with a short history and overview of Manhattan (including the 1993 terrorist bombing of the World Trade Center), and then quickly turns to the events that occurred on in September, 2001. Using television broadcasts, military reports, professional and non-professional photographs and videos, and personal testimonies, the exhibit offers a detailed, intense account of events in Lower Manhattan during and directly after the planes hits the towers.
In the latter half of the Museum, the focus shifts to the people who decided to organize after 9/11 to create a positive impact. A question raised by 9/11, Museum board president Lee Ielpi, was “what do we do afterwards? We’re going to have to do something positive, we’re going to have to rebuild our City and our country. And the people who were affected by 9/11 are the catalyst to start this movement.” Mr. Ielpi, a retired New York City firefighter, was a 9/11 first responder along with his son, Jonathan Lee Ielpi, who died that day.
“We are showing all of the remarkable efforts of people in the 9/11 community who have moved forward by reaching out to help other people who have been impacted by trauma and loss,” Ms. Lobel explained, citing as an example the Peter C. Alderman Foundation (which seeks to “heal the emotional wounds of survivors of terrorism, torture and mass violence”), Beyond the 11th (a non-profit that provides support to widows in Afghanistan who have been afflicted by war, terrorism, and oppression), and multiple initiatives launched by the Tribute Center itself. “There are many, many different 9/11 initiatives, and we hope that by reading and learning about them, we can inspire our visitors to think, ‘Oh, maybe I can do something in my own community,'” she says.
The 9/11 Tribute Museum, located at 92 Greenwich Street is open Monday through Saturday, from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, and on Sundays, from 10 am to 5:00 pm. Admission is $15 for adults, $5 for children (ages 8-12), and $10 for military/uniformed services, students and seniors. For more information, call 866-737-1184 or browse: 911tributemuseum.org.