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Twenty Years Later, We Remember 9/11 With Memorial Museums That Honor the Souls Lost

and RENEE DEE

Tower of Voices chimes flight 93 memorial PA

Rendering by bioLiINIA and Paul Murdoch Architects | Flight 93 Memorial – Tower of Voices

A community of architects searched their souls after 9/11 to design powerful memorials for museums to remember those lost that tragic day. Here are three remembrances that will move you.

On the 20th Anniversary of the attacks on America on September 11th, 2001, we can conjure up those moments when time stand stood like it was yesterday. For the families, friends and loved ones of those lost that day, there are unanswered questions and losses that can never be returned.

Following the tragedies, artists, designers, architects and foundations soul searched and were inspired to create 9/11 memorial museums so we would never forget—symbolic, meaningful, touching and unique memorials—to which our editorial team has traveled. There are no words to describe walking those sacred grounds, and out of the destruction there was inspiration to make it matter, to remember and to create meaning for those left behind.

9-11 memorial twin towers New York

Laura Novak

In New York this year, The National 9/11 Memorial & Museum will lead the nation, and the world, as we mark the passage of two decades since the day that changed our lives forever.

The focus of the commemoration will be the reading of the names by family members in-person. Throughout the ceremony, six moments of silence will be observed, acknowledging when each of the World Trade Center towers was struck and fell and the times corresponding to the attack on the Pentagon and the crash of Flight 93.
The first moment of silence will be observed at 8:46 a.m. with houses of worship to toll their bells at that time. At sundown, the annual “Tribute in Light” will once again illuminate the sky in commemoration of the anniversary of the attacks.

We encourage you to read on and use these meaningful 9/11 memorial museums as a source for your own contemplation.

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New York 9-11 memorial and Spencer Finch art installation

Jin S. Lee / Courtesy of the 9-11 Memorial and Museum

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SPIRIT IN THE “SKY” | 9/11 Memorial Museum Installation Remembers
While that September morning shocked us to the core, the hours and days that followed brought out the best aspects of human spirit among the heroic first-responding police and firefighters, survivors and beautiful remembrances of its fallen. In the years that followed, New York City and America’s healing process continued with the construction of the National September 11 Memorial Museum.

The impact of the day on the American psyche is encompassed within the museum’s collection of concrete and metal ruins mixed in with multimedia displays, personal artifacts found in the rubble, evocative magazine coves and a room that puts a human face on each of the 2,983 people who perished that day, as well as those who died in the February 26, 1993 attack.

Spencer Finch’s installation—the only artwork to be commissioned by and for the 9/11 memorial museum—is abstract in execution yet very specific in terms of his intention to unite many different perceptions of a singular event.

However, as one gets closer, each of the 2,983 individual squares of hand-painted Fabriano Italian paper at the 9/11 memorial museum comes into relief.

From a distance, the 40-foot high, wire-grid installation looks like an abstract but cohesive depiction of a cloudless late summer sky with its mosaic of brilliant blues. However, as one gets closer, each of the 2,983 individual squares of hand-painted Fabriano Italian paper at the 9/11 memorial museum comes into relief. Each sheet appears as ephemeral as the missing person fliers that papered the city in the days, weeks and months following the attacks.

“Many remember the beauty of the clear blue sky on the morning of 9/11,” the museum literature reads. “But our own perception of the color blue might not be the same as that of another person. However, just like our perception of color, our memories share a common point of reference.”

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stirs the soul and makes an emotional impact through its carefully rendered details down to the landscaping and reflecting pools.

Washington DC 9-11 memorial at the Pentagon

Laura Novak

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PENTAGON MEMORIAL | An Inspired Architects’ 9/11 Remembrance Design
The Pentagon Memorial, dedicated on September 11, 2008, does far more than serve as the first national 9/11 memorial design paying tribute to the 184 souls lost on September 11, 2001, when American Airlines Flight 77 was steered by terrorists into the Pentagon. The design, developed by Julie Beckman and Keith Kaseman, stirs the soul and makes an emotional impact through its carefully rendered details down to the landscaping and reflecting pools. It deftly acknowledges of the events of 9/11 with a calm, peaceful and inviting setting to remember.

The couple, who lived on the Upper West Side and were working at different architecture firms, were front and center to experience the unthinkable. They watched the start of the workday go up in billowing cloud of smoke and soot and saw the ensuing confusion on the streets.

Pentagon 9-11 memorial DC

Jacob Novak

Like many New Yorkers, Beckman and Kaseman needed a way to cope with the events of 9/11. Although they initially threw themselves into work at their respective jobs, the announcement of the Pentagon Memorial Design Contest less than a year later provided them a personal creative outlet to express themselves.

“For me, one of the first things I was thinking was that the 9/11 memorial museum should be a place where, say, a mom and her kids could go on a Sunday afternoon to be near the husband and the father and how we could make it a very welcoming and inviting place,” Beckman told the The Washington Post in May 2003. “(where) they could go for five minutes or a couple of hours and sit and read a book… So, the idea of someplace to sit was there from the get-go.

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While the tower is a monumental, heroic, iconic piece, it’s not meant to overwhelm the visitor with this booming sound but etch a memory with the intimate sound of the chimes.”

Stoystown,,Pennsylvania/usa,-,July,7,,2020.,Tower,Of,Voices,Located

Kathy D. Reasor / Shutterstock

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“TOWER OF VOICES” | Healing and Contemplation in Remembrance of 9/11
Architects design homes for families, buildings for commerce and public use, infrastructure for communities and resorts for leisure, but on one day in 2005 architect Paul Murdoch and his namesake firm Paul Murdoch Architects, along with Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects were chosen from a list of 1,100 competing firms and solo practices to be awarded the commission to design the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, PA.

Now, 15 years later, the Tower of Voices, phase three of this serene, poetic and sustainable 2,200-acre 9/11museum, marks the extraordinary courage of the 40 passengers and crew members on September 11, 2001 and was dedicated in their honor on September 9, 2018.

The 93-foot concrete Tower of Voices has 40 wind chimes suspended by corbels in a 3D soundscape where every chime has a unique sound, commemorating the 40 lives lost on United Airlines Flight 93.

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Tower of Voices 9-11 memorial PA

Courtesy of the NPS

“Since the last memory that many family members have of their loved ones is through voices on those phone calls from the plane, we had this idea of somehow incorporating sound into the 9/11 memorial museum. As we came to understand the site better, we realized the natural forces of this site could activate these chimes that would then embody the voices of the passengers and crew, becoming an ever-changing and living memorial expression,” says Murdoch. “We wanted each chime to have its own inner voice, if you will.”

“I just hope they experience something very personal. We very consciously tried not to impose a programmed response. While the tower is a monumental, heroic, iconic piece, it’s not meant to overwhelm the visitor with this booming sound but etch a memory with the intimate sound of the chimes.”

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