Similarity in the 9/11 Memorial Museum and Holocaust Museums

The 9/11 Memorial Museum…is what future architectural historians will recognize as a specific late-twentieth-century building type: the Holocaust museum. … There are now more than seventy such museums around the world. A muted or off-center or jagged modernist hull, monolithic and windowless, opens down onto a tomblike, dramatically lit, vast inner space. A relative latecomer, Moshe Safdie’s redesign of Yad Vashem, in Israel, which opened in 2005, actually breaks the theatricalized gloom, and is skylit. The purpose of such museums, difficult to accomplish, is to memorialize the dead without becoming macabre.

The Holocaust museums do the work museums were made to do: display an unusual object and explain its original meaning. Their subject is a great crime whose perpetrators did all within their power to keep concealed, and simply making the story public has been a big part of the work of mourning. … What happened on 9/11, by contrast, was a crime deliberately committed in open air as a nightmarish publicity stunt, one already as well documented as any incident in history.

Adam Gopnik, “Stones and Bones”, The New Yorker (7 & 14 July 2014), 39-40.