After almost 13 years since the events of September 11, 2001, the 9-11 Memorial Museum opens to the public. In that time thousands upon thousands of artifacts have been preserved as a testament to the people and events of that day. Save America’s Treasures made possible the conservation of one of the largest of those artifacts, the Last Column as well as some of the most fragile, hundreds of memorial flags, banners, photographs, notes and other material now in the New York State Museum.
In 2009, the 9-11 Memorial Museum was awarded an SAT grant to preserve one of the most emotionally resonant artifacts of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. During the 9-month rescue, recovery, and clean-up operations, the Last Column was transformed into a living memorial and symbol of resilience as writings, photographs, and votive tributes were layered onto its surfaces. Despite its apparent solidity, exposure to harsh sunlight and fluctuating humidity severely compromised its steel surface and mantle of ephemera. Once conserved, it was placed in its current space and the museum was built around it.
All that remains of the World Trade Center site in its original form is a model built by the office of the Minoru Yamasaki between 1969 and 1971. In 2002, the American Architectural Foundation and SAT’s current private partner restored the model with an award from the program. At opening of the exhibit of the newly restored model, former PCAH executive director Henry Moran said “The existence of this model is a miracle of sorts, surviving in Washington, while the only other model was destroyed at the World Trade Center site. Now thanks to the public/private partnerships facilitated by Save America’s Treasures, this icon of American history has been carefully restored to help future generations understand the size and scale of this historic site.”
Today both these artifacts are in the 9-11 Memorial collections and are part of the narrative of that infamous day and its aftermath. These artifacts join almost 1300 similar Save America’s Treasures projects, which collectively keep alive this nation’s irreplaceable cultural and historic legacy for the next generation.