Many museums have a goal to produce a reaction from their visitors. In the case of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, it is likely that the reaction from visitors will be a very emotional one. They have a very challenging job of telling the stories of an event that everyone can remember which many visitors are expected to feel emotionally and cognitively attached. It was fascinating to hear how Oral History is going to be used; how voices and stories captured can be made accessible; victims, people who survived & those who will visit. Digital technology serves their mission to create a collective history and the global impact of September 11th still continues today.
Amy Weisser presented perfectly how to use technology appropriately to deal with difficult emotional content. It reminded me of a Digital Think Drink at the Weinner Library, who hold the most extensive archives on the Holocaust and Nazi era. They were were asking the same questions, about issues of dealing with difficult content, what is appropriate, what is not? One of the big questions that came our form the Weinner was is viewing distressing and difficult material online any different from viewing the same material in the physical space? Something that9/11 are also working though. Amy’s presentation was actually quite hard to watch; it was a hard hitting, but fascinating to hear their approach to such a monumental event.
I find it very difficult to go to War Museums and memorials, I find it very upsetting. This has the same atmosphere, more memorial than museum. I realise how important it is to remember the events of September 11th, but I don’t quite know if I can have a museum experience there. Nevertheless Amy presented brilliantly and showed the importance of preserving collective memory and the challenges of dealing with a digital medium and how powerful oral history can be. The 9/11 memorial is hard-hitting, honest, and respectful. Mapping responses of individuals has such an emotional impact, drawing the audience in to reflect about their own experiences. It was an excellent example of ‘What’s Next’ in museums as 9/11 is set to open in 1212.