Passion on All Sides: Planning a Memorial Museum at Ground Zero

A lecture by Alice Greenwald, the third presentation in the Winter 2007 lecture series, Exhibiting Controversy: From Mapplethorpe to “Body Worlds” and Beyond.

Perhaps no proposed new museum has been under the spotlight more than the planned museum and memorial at the World Trade Center site. Alice Greenwald will offer a view of the highly-charged planning process for a memorial museum commemorating the events of September 11th, 2001, to be located at the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan. Until recently the Associate Museum Director for Museum Programs at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., Ms. Greenwald will reflect on the lessons learned from her 19-year affiliation with the Holocaust Museum ““ another project forged out of controversy ““ that now inform the philosophical approach and methodologies being applied to World Trade Center Memorial Museum. Ms. Greenwald will variously explore the distinction between sites of memory and sites of conscience; the tensions that often erupt into controversy when the equally valid objectives of memorialization, public education, and urban re-development come into conflict; and, the very real challenges of accommodating multiple points of view into a coherent narrative when those affected by the subject of a museum remain traumatized by the very events that museum is charged to chronicle. Alice Greenwald’s presentation is the Winter 2007 Whitesell Lecture sponsored by the Museum Studies Program and The Bentley Historical Library.

Alice Greenwald’s previous experience at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum familiarized her with the complexities of navigating between survivors, historians, members of the public, and other stakeholders. Greenwald joined the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation in 2006 as Executive Vice-President for Programs and Director of the World Trade Center Memorial Museum. She is responsible for managing the creation of a vision for the planned World Trade Center Memorial Museum and for the eventual programming and operation of the museum. In this capacity, she has to respond to many stakeholders and steer a course between the concerns of relatives of 9/11 victims, security concerns, the need to memorialize, and the need to interpret.