The Art of Remembrance – Nick Peabody ’18

New York City is full of some of the world’s best museums and greatest art. The visit or experience I want to share, however, is not of a trip to The MET, MOMA, or The Whitney, but rather to a more solemn, but nevertheless artistic, site: the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Growing up in New York City, the tragic events of that fateful day will forever be seared into my memory. It was my first day of school, and I can remember being picked up and sitting in front of the TV with my mom, confused but with an innate sense that something bad had happened.

I’ve always wanted to visit the memorial and museum, and finally got my chance on a nice August afternoon. I took the subway downtown, and had to look at a map on my phone to locate the memorial. It’s funny how such a massive site can sneak up on you. My first thought when I approached the edge of the North Tower memorial was how subdued yet powerful it was.

 

 

While the Twin Towers stood imposingly over the NYC skyline, the memorial consists of two equally awe-inspiring holes in the ground where the buildings once stood. The huge rectangular hole opens into an even deeper hole in the center of the site, the bottom of which one can’t see from the edge of the memorial. A waterfall flows down from the plaques where the names of those lost are eloquently carved. The sound of flowing water, the massive hole in the middle, and the gracefully carved names in the plaque surrounding the rectangle all contribute to the solemn and powerful aesthetic that so accurately captures the tragedy of the attacks, but also the beautiful memory of the lives lost.

 

 

The inside of the museum itself is equally impressive, with the exhibition taking you deep underground where the remains of the initial foundation form part of the wall of the new museum.

 

 

Much of the exhibit consists of remnants from the horror of the attacks, such as the damaged fire engine above. These real-life items are powerful reminders of the severity of the damage inflicted that day.

 

 

The museum itself consists mostly of real-life objects from 9/11 that, while through their aesthetic convey the vast array of sadness and emotion encompassed on that day, are not art but artifact. However, there is one commissioned work of art in the museum: Spencer Finch’s Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on that Saturday Morning. The work is poignant and powerful, as each of the 2,983 squares is a distinct shade of blue representing each victim of the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers. Although much more sobering than a visit to The MET or MOMA, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum is a must see when in New York City. While most of the museum isn’t actually art but tragic historical artifact, the aesthetic of the memorial is beautifully done and to be appreciated.

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