Alex: Local Projects is perhaps best known for the
Jake: The 9/11 Memorial Museum will be the first
StoryCorps project, which has allowed users to contrib-
ute oral histories via special recording booths in Grand
Central Station, the World Trade Center, and elsewhere.
What lessons have you learned from StoryCorps that
informed your approach to the NS11MM project?
major museum of the 21st century, and in many
ways it’s poised to really evolve what a museum
can be. Some of that is because it’s the newest, but
much of that is because of the specific facts of 9/11.
Because 9/11 is a very recent event whose impact
is still evolving, and because it was experienced by
a third of the world live within 24 hours, there is
a very concrete sense that the definitive “history”
of 9/11 has yet to be written. The 9/11 Memorial
Museum will take many of the methods of collab-
orative storytelling that we started working with in
StoryCorps, and apply them to the history of 9/11,
without presuming, or imposing, a prime narra-
tive. There will be spaces that are pulling stories
randomly from a massive archive of accounts,
giving visitors both specific accounts, and also the
sense that for each story, there are hundreds or
thousands of similar stories. There will be multiple
moments for visitors to put in their own stories of
the event, as well as reflections on the significance
of the event.
Unlike StoryCorps, where the thrill is really in
either making the recordings for personal use, or
in listening to one of the few edited pieces, the 9/11
Memorial Museum will do much more to shape
and aggregate the entire archive that is created.
To date, 911history.org is the best example; visi-
tors can participate by either putting materials in,
or shape the history by playing specific searches,
locations, or times of day from the archive itself.
Rendering courtesy of Silverstein Properties, Inc. and dbox
One other lesson has to do with the feeling of
the project. StoryCorps is a very human project. It
has the subversive goal of getting people to talk to
each other. Whether it’s the questions you could
never ask your father, or your grandmother’s past
you never knew, the project aims to make listening
a transcendent experience. At the 9/11 Memorial
Museum, whether through the physical exhibitions
that Thinc Design and Local Projects are making,
or through the interactives or media, we’re looking
• A rendering of the future WTC site. Included are 1 World Trade
Center, Tower 2, the National 9/11 Memorial Museum Pavilion,
and Memorial Quadrant.