September 11: Bearing Witness to History
Bearing Witness to History
This site provides broad access to this unusual national collection of September 11–related artifacts, and allows visitors to learn the behind-the-scenes collection process at the Smithsonian.
In the weeks following September 11, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History was directed by Congress to collect and document the events of September 11 for the nation. An unprecedented task in the museum’s history, this collection of recovered artifacts, images, posters, and personal items represents its efforts to collect “history as it is happening” for future generations. The museum shared part of its collection in a commemorative exhibition, September 11: Bearing Witness to History, and the entire collection is viewable on this Web site as it expands over time. The Web site posed a number of design challenges as the museum worked to simultaneously collect, document, and build an exhibition around such a recent, emotionally-charged tragedy. The site design is purposefully minimal and subdued to allow visitors to bring their own memories and interpretations to their experience of the site. The Collection section offers visitors access to more than 90 objects in the Smithsonian collection, which have been documented with additional supporting materials. Detailed captions, plus notes from curators and donors, provide rare insight into and context for objects that have become extraordinary symbols of this history. The process of collecting and interpreting the artifacts is revealed through narrated interviews with many of the curators. This section is built to dynamically publish via a custom-designed, Web-based administrative tool that allows museum staff to add new object records, upload images, and link related objects together. Tell Your Story, a collaborative digital archive between the Smithsonian and George Mason University, enables visitors to share their own stories of September 11 and to read the experiences of others.
Press & Awards“Visiting the Virtual Museum,” Communication Arts, Sam McMillan, March 2004“14th Annual Muse Awards,” AAM Museum News, Deborah Seid Howes, November 2003Museums and the Web Conference, Finalist, Best Online Exhibition, 2003American Association of Museums Muse Awards, Gold, History and Culture, 2003
If I were grading this project, I would give it an A...it serves many different purposes with out losing any of them, is ulitmately easy to approach and navigate, but leaves one richer when leaving than when one entered the site. A very powerful website that educates, memorializes and documents beautifully...A very ambitious, innovative and thoughtful online exhibit with compelling imagery, text and community components. An important permanent archive of objects and personal accounts. Visually pleasing, well designed and easy to use...A model website for national memory and healing.Macromedia, Site of the Day, September 11, 2002USA Today, Hot Sites, September 11, 2002
- Aleen Adams
- Gabe Kean
- David Brewer, Seb Chevrel
- A/V Filming
- Aleen Adams, David Waingarten
- Production Assistant
- David Waingarten
© 2014 Second Story, Inc.