The exhibition titled “Forever Marked by the Day” explores the timeline of the World Trade Center.
The exhibit opens Friday, Sept. 10 and will remain on display at the William & Mary-affiliated museum until January 9, 2022.
“Forever Marked by the Day” spans three galleries, examining the making and remaking of the World Trade Center by paying homage to the architects, artists, designers and photographers involved.
Museum Director David Brashear will give several free gallery talks over the course of the exhibition. The first one will be on Sept. 10 at 11 a.m.
The exhibition offers visitors a place for reflection on a day that forever changed lives.
Architect Michael Arad, who won the design competition for the World Trade Center memorial, spoke at the Museum in April 2021, which inspired Brashear to mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11 with an exhibit that provides an opportunity for learning and reflection.
Brashear has a personal connection to September 11, as he lived in Washington, D.C. and his father worked at the Pentagon when the third plane crashed into it. Unable to reach his father by phone at the time, Brashear set out on foot to find him amid the chaos.
His father was not hurt in the attack, and six years later, Brashear moved to New York City where he learned many personal accounts from victims and first responders.
“It’s an incredibly important day to me and I wanted the museum to honor that day in some way,” Brashear said. “We have essentially created a chapel in our galleries, and have as the backdrop an examination of the architecture of the World Trade Center site, from its initial construction to its current configuration.”
The exhibit allows visitors to view the timeline of the World Trade Center in sequential order, starting in the first gallery, which showcases the work of architect Minoru Yamasaki, who designed the original Twin Towers.
In the next gallery, visitors will be able to see relevant photographs from September 11 by significant photographers of the time.
Brashear said that the Museum is not exhibiting any photos of the buildings on fire or collapsing, or depicting the tragic loss of lives.
“Our intention is to present this history with exceptional sensitivity,” Brashear said. “But while they are not explicit, the photos we have signal the day.”
The third gallery focuses on Arad’s reflecting pools that are located within the original footprints of the Twin Towers, and David Childs’ design for One World Trade Center, the 104-story skyscraper and tallest building in the United States at 1,776 feet.
Another section in the exhibit focuses on the Oculus, the World Trade Center transportation hub designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, which in Calatrava’s mind resembles a dove taking flight.
The exhibit concludes in the center gallery that features 12 enlarged covers from The New Yorker magazine. Six covers show the Twin Towers before the attack and six document the site afterward, which Brashear said offers “another way to reflect.”
An honor wall will also be on display with the names of nine William & Mary graduates, seven lost in the 9/11 tragedy in New York and two soldiers killed in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan afterward.
Brashear said the exhibit will not only offer a place of reflection and remembrance, but also a way to educate younger generations who were either not born yet or were too young to remember the day.
“We have the opportunity to inform young people and call their attention to the day,” Brashear said. “Learning about September 11 through the lens of architecture is not the same as learning about September 11 through an examination of political science or international relations. But it does, at least, put the topic on the table. Perhaps this exhibition will encourage our young patrons to engage in additional investigation.”
“Overall, though, this exhibition is about the human spirit, and our collective resilience. There is tragedy, but there is also triumph,” Brashear added.
Admission for the exhibition is free, and visitors are encouraged to register for tickets online in advance due to a limited capacity in the gallery.
The Museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Sundays. Masks are required.
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