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Another Look at Moving 9/11 Museum, An 'Antidote to Denial'

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This Wednesday's public opening of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum has sparked considerable conversation about the somewhat long-in-the-making dedication. Following last week's Times review of the somber space and its collection comes the take of New York Magazine's Justin Davidson. The archicritic asks similar questions to the Times, such as "How can a museum chronicle unsettled history, or interpret an event we don't fully understand? How can an exhibit be meaningful to those who were showered in ash that day and also to children who have yet to be born?" This is the unique challenge of a museum still living many events the September morning set into motion.

Davidson writes, "The meaning of 9/11 continues to change, which means that the museum must be simultaneously definitive and open-ended," quoting the museum's director, "'We're a museum that doesn't presume to wrap it up nice and neat.'" As it shouldn't. Following Davidson's rundown of the underground landscape that "leads you from small spaces to large, toggling between [the] intimacy and awe" inherent in the recovery process at the same site—distanced only by time—he surmises the museum is "tonic for the jaded and an antidote to denial." A successful result of the curatorial staff's deft handling of the cacophony of tangible, visual, and aural artifacts.

Despite the museum's efforts "to be an exercise in the cathartic power of memory," the hurt is still too near for many. The Times writes, "The local ambivalence is a complicated mixture of survivors' pride ... and emotional fatigue" that will keep many from visiting the museum. But perhaps, like the creation of the memorial and museum itself, in time and strides: immediately following President Obama's Thursday dedication of the museum, the chain-link fence that has surrounded the World Trade Center site's perimeter for over a decade was taken down, once again allowing it to become—in present day, outside of memory—a seamless section of Lower Manhattan.
· Getting to 9/11 [NYM]
· National September 11 Memorial & Museum [official]
· As 9/11 Museum Opens, These New Yorkers Will Stay Away [NYT]
· Passes Are No Longer Needed at 9/11 Memorial [NYT]
· Preview the 'Emotionally Overwhelming' 9/11 Memorial Museum [Curbed]