But once in the states I got the feeling some people considered it kind of tasteless, a sort of polished ‘disaster tourism.’ I worried it was going to make a spectacle of people’s pain. I also worried it would be an excuse for jingoism. Still, I had a ticket, and off I went.
And I was impressed. The museum itself is solemn and gorgeous, almost like a sophisticated archeological dig. Its giant artifacts of catastrophe most resemble Anselm Kiefer sculptures, delivered by the dada of disaster. The interactive memorial room offers a biography for each victim, with as much added info as loved ones wanted to provide. It was all laid out beautifully.
To me the most enthralling part was the wall projections in which (mostly) survivors recounted their steps that day, stories both chilling and very moving. There are also phone calls from the dead. There’s a large, meandering area with a timeline along the walls, also offering artifacts and various media. It is informative and grimly fascinating.
In the end I didn’t budget enough time for the museum. After nearly four hours I had to rush through the final rooms, which did look kind of Americanaesque, and for all I know veered into we’re-the-greatestism, but I just did a quick nod-and-thank-you through that part, still wanting to visit the Strand bookstore and get to my dinner date on time!
At $24 a ticket it was worth seeing. And it was a gorgeous day in New York.