Located at the former site of the Twin Towers in Manhattan, New York City, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum is a nonprofit-run tribute to the 2,977 victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, as well as the six victims of the World Trade Center bombing of February 26, 1993.

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The memorial and museum commemorates the September 11 attacks, a sequence of four connected attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon orchestrated by the al-Qaeda terrorist group. In 2003, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation held an international contest for the design of a World Trade Center memorial, honoring the attacks' victims and commemorating the lost Twin Towers of the WTC complex. After a lengthy juried selection progress, in January 2004, Michael Arad and Peter Walker's Reflecting Absence design was chosen as the winner. The design features two large reflecting pools at the base of the former Twin Towers, surrounded by trees. A museum sits underneath them, below ground level.

Construction began in the spring of 2006, after consultations with victims' families and local business. The construction took just over 5 years to complete, installing waterfalls and large concrete metal pools, planting hundreds of trees, and constructing a museum below ground level, displaying exhibits and artifacts from the World Trade Center. During construction, some of the future museum artifacts were taken on a national awareness tour, visiting over two dozen cities in the fall of 2007.

The memorial opened with a large ceremony on September 11, 2011, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the attacks. In its first three month of operation, it hosted over one million visitors. From its opening day until May 24th, 2014, the memorial functioned in an interim operation period, with the museum slated to open several times but repeatedly pushed back by funding delays. On the museum's sold-out first day of operation, the gates that had surrounded the museum site were taken down for the first time since the 2001 attacks.

Permanent Exhibits

The two twin reflecting pools of the memorial are an acre in size and surrounded by walls. Twin waterfalls, the largest manmade waterfalls in North America, flow into the pools. On the parapets of the walls are 76 bronze plates inscribed with the names of the victims of the September 11th attacks and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, arranged by company, location, or affiliation. Victims' company names are not listed on the plaques, but first responders are listed with the name of their unit and the passengers of the four planes are listed under their plane's flight number.

Over 200 trees were planted at the site of the memorial, including the Survivor Tree, a Callery pear tree that was originally planted in 1970 and rescued from the rubble following the attacks. Although the tree was badly damaged in the attacks and was not expected to survive, it made a full recovery, earning it its moniker. Until 2010, the tree was hosted under the care of the Arthur Ross Nursery, before being brought back to the World Trade Center grounds in December of 2010. Today, it stands over 30 feet tall and is seen as symbol of perseverance and endurance.

The museum is located 70 feet underground, beneath the memorial. It is accessed through a deconstructivist-designed pavilion, made to echo a partially collapsed building in tribute to the fallen Twin Towers. The museum houses artifacts from Ground Zero, including wrecked emergency vehicles, two tridents from the Towers, metal from the buildings, photographs of the destruction, audio recordings of first responders and 911 calls, and photographs of all of the attacks' victims. The museum also holds the unidentified remains of over 1,000 victims in its bedrock.

The museum's many multimedia displays, archives, and collections chronicle the story of the attacks. The centerpiece of the chronicle is the Historical Exhibition, detailing the leadup to the attack, the attack itself, and its aftermath. The Memorial Exhibition focuses on the lives lost in both the September 11th attack and the 1993 bombing. At the Witness at Ground Zero exhibit, visitors can see a collection of over 500 photographs taken in the five days immediately following the attacks. Cover Stories displays 33 New Yorker covers, showcasing depictions of the Twin Towers before and after the attacks, and Rendering the Unthinkable contains a collection of artwork reacting to the attacks, featuring paintings, sculpture, and mixed media.

Ongoing Programs and Education

The memorial and museum offers tours for school groups, focused on age-appropriate curriculum-based teaching of the September 11th attacks. On the anniversary of the attacks, a free webinar is held, connecting classrooms around the world to the museum. The museum also provides age-appropriate materials for all children visiting the museum, including interactive art activities and a guide detailing how to talk to children about terrorism. Additionally, the museum presents a series of talks and programs from experts on contemporary topics. Recordings of these programs are available online.

180 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10007, Phone: 212-312-8800

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