Getting Ready for 9/11 Museum & the Next Storm

Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Joe Daniels
Joe Daniels

BY JOE DANIELS  |  On Feb. 26, the 9/11 Memorial will have a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in which six people were killed. The names of those victims are inscribed on the memorial among the names of 9/11 victims.

As we look ahead into the new year, we recall that the past 12 months have come with great challenges as well as several significant milestones for the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

The 9/11 Memorial, which has had more than six million visitors worldwide since its opening in September 2011, continues to welcome thousands of people every day. The 9/11 Memorial Museum is back on track after having spent the better part of last year at the center of a dispute.

Since then, museum construction has advanced with an agreement forged between the memorial and museum foundation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. We are grateful for the leadership of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Gov. Chris Christie.

We stand together and understand the importance of preserving this history and the memory of every man, woman and child killed in the attacks.

With a slated museum opening in 2014, preparations continue with new acquisitions to the permanent collection, fabrication of exhibitions and ongoing developments in content and design planning. A glimpse of this work was publicly unveiled for victims’ families on the eve of the eleventh anniversary of 9/11 when we shared a preview of the In Memoriam exhibition, which is dedicated to commemorating the lives of the 2,983 people killed in the attacks of 2001 and 1993.

We were overwhelmingly touched by the kind words from the family members who have entrusted us with personal stories and belongings that are very much an integral part of the In Memoriam exhibition.

A month later, we persevered after facing the challenges of Superstorm Sandy.

Before the storm, we took a number of preventive measures, including draining the twin reflecting pools and water-harvesting tanks. As a result, the 9/11 Memorial fared well; however, river surges caused flooding in the museum construction site.

The flooding came from other areas of the World Trade Center site that are still under construction. We are confident that the flooding would not have been as extensive had the museum been complete, and we are continuing to work with our partners at the Port Authority to ensure something like this won’t happen again.

Thankfully, the majority of the museum’s collection is stored offsite during this period of construction and was unharmed by flooding.

We already have plans for ensuring the protection of artifacts based on certain risks or emergencies, as other museums do. After a weather event like Sandy, we are further developing plans to mitigate flooding, including enhanced training for staff that will be working in the museum to ensure they are well-versed in protocols for protecting and removing artifacts under various emergency situations. We are also incorporating redundancies like water-tight doors and multilayered waterproofing.

Lower Manhattan is recognized as a place of resilience. Through the heartfelt efforts of the Port Authority, the city, the state and our dedicated staff, we were able to make a full recovery after Sandy, with construction on the museum advancing forward. I’d like to especially thank our supporters, 9/11 family members and contributors to our collection who personally contacted us and expressed their support after the storm.

Over the past year, there have been many great moments at the 9/11 Memorial. The memorial led the nation in a day of remembrance with a ceremony commemorating the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Numerous foreign dignitaries and public leaders visited the 9/11 Memorial in the last year, underscoring its global significance. Citizens from 175 different nations also came to visit.

Next week, we will have the ceremony recognizing the anniversary of the 1993 Trade Center bombing. On April 21, we will spread awareness about the 9/11 Memorial and the importance of public service through a 9/11 Memorial 5K Run/Walk and Family Day. We hope you and your family can join us.

We look to build on all that was accomplished in 2012 as we get closer to the opening of the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

Joe Daniels is president and C.E.O. of the 9/11 Memorial.

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