Take Somber Tours As September 11 Museum Opens To Public
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[May 22, 2014]
By Jonathan Allen
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Yorkers who
toured the museum that commemorates the violent attacks of September 11,
2001, on Wednesday, the first day it was open to the public, said they
expected a somber visit but found themselves emotionally overwhelmed.
The National September 11 Memorial Museum in downtown Manhattan,
featuring displays and artifacts related to the attacks and the
nearly 3,000 victims, opened its doors to the general public after
eight years of planning and building.
Alyson Slattery, an executive assistant at a nearby insurance
company, went with a friend during her lunch hour to search victims'
biographies and photographs for someone they knew.
She emerged from the subterranean museum ashen-faced.
"It was too much for me," said Slattery, 27. "I wouldn't want to go
through that again."
Her friend Susan Cottingham, 35, agreed it was a difficult visit but
said she found the museum "beautifully done."
"It's lucid. It's bittersweet," she said.
President Barack Obama last week joined victims' families, first
responders and dignitaries for a dedication ceremony at the $700
million museum that documents the day hijacked planes slammed into
the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and an open field near
On display are a wide range of artifacts, from half-crushed fire
trucks and twisted masses of architectural steel to bloodstained
personal items such as shoes, wallets and lipstick tubes.
Michael Cotton, 43, an architect who works at Snøhetta, the firm
that designed the museum's glassy atrium, said he made the visit
largely to appraise his colleagues' work, but found himself overcome
by the exhibits.
"I wasn't really prepared," Cotton said.
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"You start off in a place that's light and airy, and then you
descend, and even the wood gets darker," he said, describing going
down to the exhibition halls at bedrock level around the foundations
of the fallen World Trade Center towers. "It's really intense."
The most poignant of all were the audio exhibits, Cotton and several
other visitors said.
A recording of a husband calling his wife from the Trade Center's
north tower, telling her the south tower had just been hit, made a
deep impression on Marianne Ludlam.
The audio was almost too much to hear, but its inclusion is
justified, the 68-year-old retiree said.
"You can't not include anything because that's what this is about.
It's about the reality of that day," she said.
Admission was free for the first day, thanks to a corporate sponsor.
Tickets typically will be $24.
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Gunna
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