Most people can tell you exactly what happened to them on September 11, 2011. They remember the weather, or what they had for lunch, or the look on their neighbor’s face as the two watched smoke billowing from downtown Manhattan. The attacks of 9/11 affected everyone differently, and that is what the New-York Historical Society hopes to honor with the exhibition Remembering 9/11.
The exhibition, the first since New-York Historical closed for renovations, will open on September 9 and will be free to the public. But according to Curator Marilyn Kushner, this isn’t a typical exhibition: “It’s just not something that needs to be looked at. Rather it needs to be contemplated. Maybe that’s the big difference.”
Kushner decided that the exhibition should be “a place to go to reflect.” The installation features three window vitrines filled with objects from the shrines that popped up around the city in the days following the attacks. There will also be photographs from Here is New York, an impromptu exhibition of images taken by professionals and amateurs alike, displayed in SoHo in the weeks following the attacks. The photographs will be displayed on a blue background, “like the color of the sky that day.”
Further on there will be voice sticks with recorded testimonies of what happened that day and images and texts from the New York Times’ “Portraits of Grief” series, in which the paper printed photos and stories about the victims of the attacks. Kushner explained the combination of photos and testimonials, “personalizes what happened and it makes you realize that this is not just thousands people but it’s all of these families and these children and these spouses.”
The exhibition ends by looking forward, with architect Michael Arad’s designs of the fountains at the downtown National September 11 Memorial, which called for a void in the Hudson River in the shape of the twin towers. And though that would have been an engineering feat, the idea of the “footprints” of the building carried over to the fountains currently at the Memorial. “There should be a feeling of optimism amidst all this horror,” said Kusher. “This is about everyone bringing in their own memories, their own experiences that day and just trying to put it all together.”