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Sept. 11 exhibits go beyond Ground Zero

As the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks nears, there will be gatherings at the National September 11 Memorial in New York City, at the Pentagon Memorial in Washington, D.C., and at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa.

Many museums around the country also are planning exhibits and activities that give the public an opportunity to remember and reflect on the events of that fateful day. Here are a few places to visit:

Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History

Hugh Talman/Courtesy of the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

Left behind by Lisa Lefler, this briefcase was found amid the debris at the World Trade Center and returned to her.

In "September 11: Remembrance and Reflection," the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., will offer an intimate look at more than 50 objects collected at the three sites —  New York, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa.

The objects, which include airplane fragments, a door from a crushed fire truck and objects recovered from offices, will be set out on open tables, not locked in glass cases, and will be on display for just nine days, from Sept. 3 through Sept. 11. Admission: free.


Sarah Mercier / Newseum/Courtesy FBI Tour

Hiking boots worn by convicted "shoe bomber" Richard Reid in December 2001.

At Washington, D.C.’s Newseum, a museum dedicated to the story of how news is made and reported, the 10th anniversary of 9/11 is being marked with special programs and with free admission on Sept. 10 and 11.

The Newseum’s 9/11 Gallery, which opened in 2008, includes a moving video about journalists covering the attack, a 31-foot section of the broadcast antenna that sat on top of the World Trade Center’s North Tower and a twisted piece of the fuselage of Flight 93 that crashed in Shanksville, Pa. To update the exhibit, the Newseum has added 60 new artifacts from the FBI, including engine parts and landing gear from the planes that hit the World Trade Center and the hiking boots laced with explosives that convicted “shoe bomber” Richard Reid tried to ignite during a flight from Paris to Miami in December 2001.

Chicago’s Field Museum

Nicola McClean

The man wearing these shoes was knocked out of them by the force of the blast coming up from the Wall Street Station during the collapse of one of the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001.

From Sept. 2 through Jan. 1, 2012, Chicago’s Field Museum is displaying "Ground Zero 360˚," an exhibit that tells the story of Sept. 11 through large-scale photographs, original police radio calls and artifacts from the World Trade Center. 

“Appropriately,” says museum spokesperson Nancy O’Shea, “the exhibition is in our Marae Gallery, which takes its name from the Maori word for a clearing in front of a meeting house where people speak their minds and honor the deceased.”

The Penn Museum

On loan from the National September 11 Memorial Museum

This mangled computer keyboard was recovered at Ground Zero.

In Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology (the Penn Museum), is marking the 9/11 milestone with an exhibition that includes 15 objects recovered at the site of Ground Zero. Included in the "Excavating Ground Zero: Fragments from 9/11" exhibit are a pair of broken eyeglasses, glass from the Twin Towers, visitor badges and a mangled, almost incinerated, computer keyboard.

“As archeologists we deal with the forgotten things of the past and, as a rule, we look at those objects in a rather detached way,” said Richard Hodges, Williams Director of the Penn Museum. “Seeing these [9/11] objects of everyday character in this highly charged historical context will be quite meaningful, even to students from our university who may have been just 10 years old, or younger, when 9/11 took place.”

The exhibit is on display now through Nov. 6. Museum admission is by donation on Sept. 11.

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