Ten Years Later: Remember Sept. 11 with the Smithsonian

New Acquisitions from TSA Join National Museum of American History Collections
August 31, 2011
There are certain days that remain seared in one’s memory and mark a generation: Sept. 11 is one of those days. For many the attacks of Sept. 11 remain vivid in their minds. It was a day that affected all Americans and continues to affect them today.

The National Museum of American History will remember Sept. 11 with a unique, close-up display of more than 50 objects from the three sites—New York, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa.—as well as recent acquisitions from the Transportation Security Administration that reflect how American lives have changed since then. “September 11: Remembrance and Reflection” will be on view for nine days, Sept. 3 to 11, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“Each of us has a story about Sept. 11,” said Marc Pachter, the museum’s interim director. “This display provides a place to remember and share our personal experiences as well as those of others. In years to come the objects on display will be used to educate generations for whom Sept. 11 will no longer be a personal memory; today we hope these objects will bring people together to reflect on what it means to be an American.”

To create an intimate experience for visitors, the objects will be shown on tables rather than behind glass. Artifacts include airplane fragments, a door from a crushed FDNY fire truck, a flight attendant’s handbook from Flight 93, a Pentagon map from the building’s second floor and objects recovered from offices. Recent acquisitions from TSA include a training figure used by the Federal Air Marshal Service, a metal detector and a shirt from the first official screener uniform, worn by a member of the TSA workforce. Photographs from the museum’s collection will provide a context for each site.

The display features video excerpts from the Smithsonian Channel documentary, 9/11: Stories in Fragments, and a video presentation ABC News made for the museum on the one-year anniversary. Visitors are encouraged to leave their stories and comments; these will be preserved by the museum and the September 11 Digital Archive at George Mason University.

“September 11: Remembrance and Reflection” is made possible with generous support from Booz Allen Hamilton. The History channel provided additional support.


9/11: Stories in Fragments is a Smithsonian Channel production based on the museum’s Sept. 11 collections and the stories they convey. The film features museum curators and object donors speaking about the collection and giving the perspectives of victims, witnesses, ordinary people and heroes from New York, the Pentagon and Shanksville. The film is scheduled to premiere on Smithsonian Channel Sept. 5 at 9:35 p.m. ET/PT. It will also be shown in the museum’s “Price of Freedom” theater Sept. 3 through 11.

Online Conversations

Beginning Sept. 6, the museum is hosting an online forum, “September 11: Conversations,” that will join together small groups of registered participants to discuss how their lives have changed since Sept. 11. Each exchange will launch with museum-provided topic starters and will last two weeks. Those interested may register at http://conversations.si.edu. The forums are organized in partnership with Smithsonian Channel and GMD Studios of Winter Park, Fla.

Teaching Resources

The museum and its partners—the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York, the Pentagon Memorial Fund and the Flight 93 Memorial—collaborated on an online conference about Sept. 11 for K-12 educators. “September 11: Teaching Contemporary History” is designed to provide resources and strategies for addressing Sept. 11. Panel discussions and resources are archived at http://smithsonianconference.org/september11/. The program was supported by the museum’s partner Thinkfinity.org, the Verizon Foundation’s portal of K-12 lesson plans and educational resources.

About the Sept. 11 Collections

The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays our American heritage. In 2002, Congress designated the museum as the official repository for Sept. 11 materials so that objects, photographs and documents would be preserved permanently in the museum’s collections to help future generations of historians and visitors comprehend the horrific events, their roots and their long-term consequences. The museum’s Sept. 11 collection may be viewed at https://americanhistory.si.edu/september11.