Tuesday, September 6, 2011

9/11 Exhibit

As promised, I went back to the National Museum of American History on Monday, during the appropriate hours, to see the 9/11 exhibit.  The line was an hour and a half long and wound around through another exhibit over to the East wing (the exhibit entrance was in the West wing).  Bring a book!  Luckily, I had my ipad so I googlereader'd and scrabbled my way through the line.

From the standpoint of a reviewer, with no disrepect to the remembrance of 9/11, I have to say I was very underwhelmed by the exhibit.  Upon entering, there were 4 tables set up - one with artifacts from The Pentagon, one with artifacts from the Pennsylvania crash, and one with a few artifacts from the Trade Centers.  The 4th and final table was a table dedicated to the TSA.  Really... with a big bin in the middle full of scissors and exacto knives that I guess have been confiscated in the 10 years since 9/11, and to your right an example of a TSA screening thing you have to walk through at the airport.

Uh...what?  It was really very strange.  Unless you haven't flown once in the 10 years since 9/11, and maybe there's the odd visitor who hasn't, I'm pretty sure we don't need to be reminded of the TSA's ever evolving way of inconveniencing travelers.  The whole thing felt like an homage to the Transportation Security Administration as opposed to a remembrance of 9/11...and if that was the exhibit's intention, doesn't that mean the terrorists have won?  Just a little bit?  I don't know, it weirded me out.

Overall, the exhibit's items were very moving however, to create a more 'intimate' experience the items were placed on tables, with descriptor cards in front (as opposed to behind glass) and with people stationed behind the tables to chat with visitors further about the exhibit.  This was all well and good, except that it created a total traffic jam for patrons and made the exhibit seem very Middle-School-Science-Fair-esque.  I think that compared to other 9/11 tributes I've seen, this one fell short of the mark.  If you'd like to see something moving, I recommend the 9/11 exhibit at the Newseum which is very compelling.

What I really enjoyed were the 2 videos shown at the American History Museum exhibit.  I was in 2nd period at St. Pete High when planes started crashing on 9/11 and therefore missed a lot of the breaking news element of the tragedy.  One of the videos replayed was a Peter Jennings interview and covered Good Morning America - mid-report about Michael Jordan - finding out about 'chaos' down at the World Trade Center - when no one realized that this was an intentional act of terrorism - to the anchors beginning to realize the magnitude of the day's events.  They were finding out awful news on camera, trying to maintain composure even though they were just as confused and worried as the rest of America, and re-watching that really brought back memories of the terror of that day.

Below are some pictures I snapped of the exhibit.

The line from where I started

The line wrapping through the American Presidency exhibit

Door of an FDNY fire truck

Artifacts from the Pentagon

Flight Log and items from the crash in Pennsylvania

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