The 9/11 Memorial Museum Store
Providing a link to the past with hope for the future
We all remember where we were on Sept. 11, 2001. It’s a day that no one will ever forget.
Opened in May 2014, The National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York serves as the country’s principal institution concerned with exploring the implications of the events of 9/11, documenting the impact of those events and exploring 9/11’s continuing significance.
It’s a powerful place of remembrance and healing for the world, and the store plays an important role in sustaining it. The monumental artifacts of the museum provide a link to the events of 9/11, while presenting intimate stories of loss, compassion, reckoning and recovery that are central to telling the story of the attacks and the aftermath.
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum is a nonprofit foundation that relies on private fundraising, donations, revenue from ticket sales and carefully selected keepsake items for retail in its Museum Store. As director of retail service, Gigi Loizzo, is in charge of sharing that mission through the store and its operational practices.
Telling the Story
Loizzo started off as an assistant manager at the South Street Seaport before moving on to the New York Botanical Gardens, New York Public Library and Brooklyn Museum. She also has served as the director of community engagement at the International Center of Photography.
As a downtown New Yorker who lived here at the time of the attacks, it’s a very personal tragedy,” Loizzo said. “The remembrance of that day and the aftermath will never go away. In the end it was precisely because I am a proud New Yorker who lived through that terrible time that prompted me to apply (for the job at the Memorial).”
The Museum’s 110,000 square feet of exhibition space is located within the archaeological heart of the World Trade Center site, telling the story of 9/11 through multimedia displays, archives, narratives and a collection of monumental and authentic artifacts. The lives of every victim of the 2001 and 1993 attacks are commemorated as visitors have the opportunity to learn about the men, women and children who died.
Loizzo described the selection of items in the Museum Store as respectful and varied. Before the museum opened, the nonprofit organization had two stores up and running, which provided an opportunity to listen to visitors regarding the kinds of keepsakes they would like to Museum Store to make available. Taking the inspiration they were given, they related items to specific stories or artifacts represented in the museum.
The store was carefully planned and designed in collaboration with the architectural firm Callison, who generously donated their services to create a retail space tailor made for their products.
“Apparel and books are the most popular categories, but others include the Flag of Honor from the Flag of Honor Project that contains the names of all those who perished in the World Trade Center, Pentagon, United flights 175 and 93, and American flights 11 and 77,” Loizzo said. “Also memorial bracelets that when worn, communicate the shared sense of loss among family, friends and sympathetic strangers, and the trident mug that reflects the two steel ‘tridents’ that are visible through glass walls inside the 9/11 Museum that stood in the rubble of collapsed towers, becoming instant symbols of defiance and resilience.”
In addition, two books co-published by the Memorial have been consistently top-selling items: “A Place of Remembrance” honors the fallen and celebrates the spirit of hope as it tells the emotional story behind the creation of the National September 11 Memorial, from the tragic events of 9/11 to the process of rebuilding on the eight sacred acres in downtown Manhattan.
“Like the memorial, this official commemorative book from National Geographic is a lasting tribute to those lost in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon,” Loizzo said. “It also lists the names of all the victims and where to find the inscriptions on the memorial itself. Proceeds from its sale help support the memorial.”
The recently published “The Stories They Tell” offers readers a journey of remembrance and a lasting record of the events of 9/11. Through profiles of key artifacts in the 9/11 Museum’s exhibitions and collections, the book recounts the stories of people caught up in the attacks. Written by museum staff members, the book unfolds the curatorial decisions behind the presentation of these memorable artifacts.
“Our diverse audience, many first time visitors, provided us an opportunity to offer a wide array of merchandise at different price points,” Loizzo said. “Whether it’s a postcard or a blanket handmade in the U.S.A., there is something for everyone.”
Because the museum attracts many school groups, there also are products that appeal to students throughout the space.
“We carry items for children such as plush rescue dogs to commemorate the four-legged heroes of 9/11 from search and rescue to therapy dogs, and children’s books such as “The Survivor Tree: Inspired by a True Story” that takes the reader on a journey of hope and healing that parallels our nation’s own journey following the events of September 11, 2001,” Loizzo said. “A month after the collapse of the Twin Towers, workers on the site discovered a few green leaves showing through the gray concrete and ash. Clearing the debris, they found a badly injured Callery Pear Tree that was rescued and taken to a nursery outside the city.
“No one was sure if it would live,” Loizza continued. “But the following spring, a dove built a nest in her branches and new green buds appeared. Over the years, the tree, although still bearing scars, grew tall and strong. It is planted in a place of honor on the 9/11 Memorial Plaza and now known as ‘The 9/11 Survivor Tree.’ This story imaginatively describes the experience, memories and feelings of the tree throughout its healing and eventual return home.”
Much like that tree, the museum and store not only demonstrate the consequences of terrorism on individual lives and its impact on communities at the local, national and international levels, but also the triumph of human dignity over human depravity while affirming an unwavering commitment to the fundamental value of life.
And one visitors won’t soon forget.
By Abby Heugel
See more images from this story on our “”Multimedia”” page.