In the two years since the 9/11 Memorial opened to the public, more than 9.5 million visitors have gazed into architect Michael Arad’s twin reflecting pools. And after nearly a decade of planning, the museum devoted to the September 11 attacks—built around and below the memorial—will open to the public this spring. The institution will house a historical exhibit dealing with the events leading up to, during and after 9/11; an area dedicated to the victims of both the 2001 tragedy and the 1993 bombing, with a Wall of Faces that features 3,000 portraits; a Foundation Hall containing a wall and a column from the original World Trade Center complex; and an education center and auditorium for public programming.
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As a preview of what visitors will see once the museum opens, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum will release The Stories They Tell (Skira Rizzoli, $35; out Sept 10), a 160-page photo book (with a foreword by Mayor Bloomberg) that provides a look at some of the artifacts in its collection. “We have over 900 objects and thousands of videos and photos, so it’s only a tiny fragment, but it’s a cross section of what people will see,” explains Clifford Chanin, the institution’s vice president for education and public programming. Each item is accompanied by an essay explaining its significance and history; the backstories of the seemingly commonplace items, such as a red bandanna or a dog’s leash, are by turns inspiring and tragic. “These are very difficult stories for [people] to tell, because many of the objects are so closely linked to a loved one or a friend who was killed,” says Chanin. But that’s why the book devotes equal attention to both a survivor’s dusty black high heels and a metal fragment from American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon. “These mundane objects are transformed into something of extraordinary historic and memorial value.”