After flooding from Hurricane Sandy, funding debates and many other delays, the 9/11 Museum will finally open in about a year. 60 Minutes got a first look inside the National September 11 Memorial Museum, located seven stories below the memorial plaza, where the two fountains in the shape of the towers' imprints, surrounded by victims' names, stand. From this hard-hat video tour and interviews with board members, it emerges that the museum not only provides detailed information about the events of that day but also lays bare emotion-laden portrayals of the victims, recovery workers, and even the perpetrators.
Visitors will start by descending into the belly of the towers, past two 50-ton beams recovered from the wreckage, and will enter a room with columns of LED lights that resonates with voices of people all over the world talking about where they were when they heard about the attacks. Many of the exhibits contain large-scale artifacts; at one point visitors will descend alongside a staircase that many used as an escape route, and there will be a fire engine used on the day that had to be lowered in through the roof by a crane. The last column to be dismantled, covered in sentimental graffiti, will be spotlighted.
"Most museums are buildings that house artifacts," says museum director Alice Greenwald. "We're a museum in an artifact." Greenwald and others talk about the challenges involved, like cordoning off areas that are sensitive and graphic, for example, the part with images of those who tried to jump to escape. Voicemail messages left by people in the towers and on planes will be used sparingly and with permission.
There will be a sizable tribute to the victim's lives, with interactive, searchable panels containing photos and remembrances by family and friends of more than 3,000 of them. Visitors will be able to call up profiles of each person, or search by birthplace or company, like hardest-hit Cantor Fitzgerald. There will be references to the terrorists (it's a controversial issue, but the museum board ultimately decided that visitors, especially children who won't remember the event, needed to leave knowing who did this), as well as areas devoted to recovery workers and volunteers of all stripes. If the sneak preview is such a tearjerker, we're sure the whole thing will be, too, when it opens in 2014.
· 60 Minutes Goes Inside the Unfinished 9/11 Museum [Intelligencer]
· The 9/11 Museum: Curating memories of terror and tragedy [60 Minutes]
· What it feels like to be at the 9/11 Museum [60 Minutes]
· World Trade Center Redevelopment coverage [Curbed]