The Psychology Behind the 9/11 Museum

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A model of the World Trade Center buildings, seen during a press preview in the National September 11 Memorial Museum at the World Trade Center site May 14, 2014 in New York. (STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty)

Deep underneath New York City is a geologic foundation, a glittering metamorphic rock layer known as Manhattan schist. This foundation, forged hundreds of millions of years ago, is the literal bedrock of the city. The rock layer works to strengthen and stabilize the skyscrapers that make up New York's iconic skyline. 

There is place in downtown Manhattan, 70 feet below the ground, where the foundations of two unique towers once met the raw Manhattan schist. They stood tall and strong until the day they were knocked down. It's there, 70 feet below ground, that marks the inner chamber of the September 11 Memorial Museum. You walk onto a glass floor and overlook the scarred bedrock that once supported the Twin Towers

Today marks the ceremonial opening of the national September 11 Memorial Museum. Although the it won't be open to the public until next Wednesday, it's exhibits are being unveiled today to President Obama and a small group of survivors, rescue workers, and family members of the victims.

It's been a long road to create this physical memorial of that tragic day—and there were a lot of hard questions to ask along the way.

"In creating a museum about an atrocity, how do you make the decision of what is appropriate to show," said museum director, Alice Greenwald in a video interview with Wired Magazine. "When does the presentation of this audio tape or this particular picture violate the memory of the people we are charged to commemorate?"

And for such a tragic event, there is also the question of the visitors, many of whom may have experienced 9/11 in a deeply traumatic way. For that, the museum design team turned to Dr. Billie Pivnick. She is a clinical psychologist who worked closely with the 9/11 museum designers. Dr. Pivnick explains how to create a tribute to a traumatic event that doesn't exacerbate the feelings of trauma.

Guests:

Billie Pivnick

Produced by:

Allie Ferguson

Editors:

T.J. Raphael

Comments [5]

R. Hynds from California

I suppose it's fitting that the museum is located 70 feet underground, a dramatic opposite of sky-scraper.

May. 16 2014 01:26 PM
Hubert J Steed from Greenwich Village, NYC

How can any memorial be respected without an honest attempt by the US Government to answer many of the questions raised about the 911 Commission Report - and the real causes & effects of that heartbreaking and terrible event that has resulted in an endless Terrorist War Against Terrorism and the deaths & injuries of millions of innocent people since then - and the demise of civil law for brute force world government?

Aren't the world and future generations of humanity owed an explanation for a more enlightened civilization?

May. 16 2014 08:56 AM
Hubert J Steed from Greenwich Village, NYC

How can any memorial be respected without an honest attempt by the US Government to answer many of the questions raised about the 911 Commission Report - and the real causes & effects of that heartbreaking and terrible event that has resulted in an endless Terrorist War Against Terrorism and the deaths & injuries of millions of innocent people since then?

Aren't the world and future generations of humanity owed an explanation for more enlightened civilization?

May. 16 2014 07:44 AM

From Wikipedia:

The name of the hamlet of Charing is derived from the old English word "cierring", referring to the nearby bend in the River Thames.[3][4]

The addition of the name "Cross" to the area's name originates from the Eleanor cross erected in 1291–94 by King Edward I as a memorial to his wife, Eleanor of Castile, and placed between the former hamlet of Charing and the entrance to the Royal Mews of the Palace of Whitehall (today the top of Whitehall on the south side of Trafalgar Square). Folk etymology suggests the name derives from chère reine — "dear queen" in French — but the original name pre-dates Eleanor's death by at least a hundred years.[5]

May. 15 2014 04:00 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y. Formerly of East Village

I lived in the East Village and went to the roof to see what was going on. Deliveries were still being made after the collapse. People were covered in ash and walking uptown in shock.

For days and months later, the smell in the East Village was of metal burning and pigeons were dying and dropping all over.

I will go to the museum and I will cry

May. 15 2014 02:34 PM

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