- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 8, 2006

NEW YORK - The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum director named Tuesday to head a September 11 memorial museum said it will be “a sacred space” that focuses on remembering the nearly 3,000 people killed in the 2001 terrorist attack.

Over time, however, the museum’s programming may evolve, said Alice M. Greenwald, who will create and direct the World Trade Center Memorial Museum, an underground gallery of exhibits planned next to the memorial that marks the destroyed twin towers’ footprints.

The museum “has to be almost a sacred space, in which everyone … has their own 9/11 story, and everyone does,” Ms. Greenwald said. “You’re talking about communal loss. You’re talking about national loss.”

Ms. Greenwald was hired after a national search that began last summer.

The museum is expected to be one of the most visited in the world when it opens in 2009. The Lower Manhattan Development Corp. rebuilding agency released preliminary plans in the fall, sparking some debate about the best way to tell the story of September 11.

One proposal would create an immersive area that plays police sirens and shows pictures of the falling towers to re-create the attacks. The display of large-scale artifacts from the towers, such as trade center steel, also is planned.

“If we keep our focus on memorialization, I think that’s what we can do in the short term,” Ms. Greenwald said. “That is not to say that that will be the definition of the entity for its entire life. Museums live with the times they are in. They respond to the times they are in, and they evolve.”

Ms. Greenwald, who will start her new job in mid-April, has been associate director for museum programs at the Holocaust Museum in Washington since 2001, overseeing several departments and heading the National Education Institute. She has served as a consultant to the museum since 1986 — seven years before it opened — and was a member of the original design team for its permanent exhibitions.

Ms. Greenwald also headed the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia in the early 1980s and has held positions at Hebrew Union College Skirball Museum in Los Angeles and the Maurice Spertus Museum in Chicago.

She will develop programs for the 110,000-square-foot underground museum as well as September 11-related programming in a visitors center.

Some victims’ family members have demanded recently to know what exhibits would be in the aboveground building. Ms. Greenwald said only that the exhibits would be “compatible and interdependent” with the underground museum.

Under Ms. Greenwald, “the September 11 story will be told in depth and with sensitivity,” said Gretchen Dykstra, president and chief executive of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, which plans to raise $500 million to build and operate the memorial. Groundbreaking on the memorial and museum is set for next month.

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