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Reclaim the Space: How the National September 11 Memorial and Museum is Setting the Precedent for Future Sites of Historic Mass Trauma

posted on 2023-09-07, 05:08 authored by Diana L. Freeberg

On September 11, 2001, hijackers from the terrorist organization Al Qaeda hijacked four US airplanes. One of those planes crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. One of those planes crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania. Two of those planes hit the World Trade Center in New York City. 2,977 people were killed as a result of the attacks on September 11, 2001. The National September 11 Memorial opened in 2011, ten years after the attacks. The winning design for the memorial, "Reflecting Absence", "...features a tree-lined plaza punctuated by two huge spatial voids located on the footprints of the former Twin Towers." (Memorial Mania; Erika Doss; pg 7) The National September 11 Memorial and Museum opened its doors to the public in 2014, and within three months of opening, had welcomed over 1 million visitors. When the decision was made to reclaim Ground Zero, a precedent was set for future spaces of historic mass trauma. The National September11 Memorial and Museum employs tactics including the use of binary roles, location specificity, and patriotism to ensure its success as an institution. These tactics also push the seemingly sealed envelope on what constitutes public art, memorials, and monuments. At the very least, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum has opened up a conversation regarding the possibilities of using sites of historic mass trauma as public art spaces.



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American University. Department of Performing Arts

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  • Masters

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