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Exhibitions Home | Current | Upcoming | Past | Virtual

September 11: Bearing Witness to History

September 11, 2002 – July 6, 2003 (new closing date)

Museum: American History Museum

Location: 2nd Floor, East Wing

The personal stories, photographs, and artifacts from the World Trade Towers, the Pentagon, and the Flight 93 crash site in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, commemorate the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The exhibition is made up of 6 sections:

  • Entrance: Images of people across the country witnessing the events of September 11, 2001.
  • Photo Gallery: Images taken by both professionals and amateurs.
  • Object Gallery: Some 50 objects representing the 3 sites.
  • Video produced for the museum by ABC News and narrated by news anchor Peter Jennings.
  • Individual Witness Stories: 5 interactive stations featuring individual accounts.
  • The Ledger: Visitors are invited to share their memories and thoughts of the events.

Among the 50 objects are:

  • an apron from Nino's restaurant on Canal Street, which was converted to a resting place for police and firemen
  • window squeegee handle used by window washer Jan Demczur to free himself and five others from an elevator in the North Tower
  • pieces of structural steel from the World Trade Tower
  • a door from a fire truck crushed in the collapse of the World Trade Tower
  • airplane fragments found in the wreckage of the World Trade Tower
  • a piece of the Pentagon's limestone facade, damaged and charred
  • a panel from an aircraft-rescue and firefighting vehicle, parked near the Pentagon when the plane crashed.
  • memorial objects left near the Flight 93 crash site in Somerset County, Pennsylvania

Note: The garrison flag that draped the damaged west wall of the Pentagon from Sept. 12-Oct. 11 is on view in the Flag Hall.

Free brochure

See Smithsonian magazine: July 2002, pp. 40-43 & September 2002, pp.25-27 and 46-50.

The exhibition closed at the Museum on July 6, 2003. During its ten-month run, it attracted over a million visitors from across the nation and around the world. Thousands of stories were collected and added to the September 11 Digital Archive.

Online Exhibition