9/11 Museum to Open Its First Art Exhibition in September

Colin Moynihan, The New York Times
July 14, 2016 For two years, the National September 11 Memorial Museum, built at ground zero, has presented visitors with a collection that reflects the moments of horror and heroism 15 years ago when terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center.

Now the museum is moving beyond its array of mainly historical items to include for the first time an exhibition of artworks created as a response to the attacks of Sept. 11.

The show, “Rendering the Unthinkable: Artists Respond to 9/11,” opens Sept. 12 in the special exhibits gallery, the inaugural use of that space. It will include “Tumbling Woman,” a bronze sculpture by Eric Fischl; some 840 pieces of a nearly 3,000-piece painting installation by Manju Shandler representing each victim of the attacks; and four pieces by Ejay Weiss that mix ash from the site with black acrylic paint and that are meant to evoke the collapse of the towers.

The exhibition is evidence of the museum’s interest in complementing its collection of artifacts and archives and an acknowledgment that expanding its scope could add visitors.

“There was always the idea that the museum would have a series of temporary exhibits,” Alice M. Greenwald, the museum’s director, said by phone on Tuesday. “It’s a way to bring people back to the museum for a second time, and it’s a way to bring in people who might not choose come otherwise.”

It is also, she added, a way for the museum to present a new perspective of Sept. 11. Although the museum included one commissioned work, by the artist Spencer Finch, when it opened in 2014, it has functioned mainly as a repository for material that documents the attacks on the World Trade Center.

About 1,000 items from the museum’s collection of more than 11,000, including surveillance footage of the hijackers passing through airports; digital copies, projected onto walls, of homemade posters seeking missing people; and a fire truck with a burned-out cab are displayed in the almost entirely subterranean museum, built where the foundations of the Twin Towers were carved into the earth. That material, sometimes resembling evidence presented in a criminal trial, can have an overwhelming effect on visitors.

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