MESSAGE FROM GARY MARLON SUSON
The 9/11 Ground Zero Museum Workshop opened September 7, 2005 in New York City’s Meatpacking District. Many people came together to help create the most realistic account of the Ground Zero “Recovery Period” ever created. 9/11 Family members, members of the FDNY, first responders, sound studios, foreign language voiceover specialists and experts in the field of graphics and technology all believed in what our vision was and came together to bring the private world of “inside Ground Zero” to life for you. Our kid-friendly, non-graphic Museum has become parent’s choice for educating their young ones about this world event.
As the Official Photographer at Ground Zero for the FDNY Fire Unions, spending 7 months inside the World Trade Center site was a life-changing experience and an honor. In 2002, I began experiencing severe lung complications from spending so much time at the WTC site. During a trip to Europe to see health specialists, I stopped in to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam which helped me fully understand the horrors of the Holocaust. Inspired, I then came back to New York City to try and create a similar tiny Museum that would help the public experience what it was like to be on the front lines with FDNY firefighters and recovery crews at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks. I also wanted all my images and stories to be encapsulated for the future in case something ever happened to me. Thus, 9/11 Museum Workshop was born in the Meatpacking District. There were so many aspects to the “Recovery Period” to convey: from the K-9 Recovery Dogs to the sacred “Honor Guard” ceremonies - from below Ground Zero in the dangerous PATH subway tunnels to the endless and tedious 24/7 digging for victims. Peppered throughout the WTC rubble were thousands of artifacts, each one telling a story and of course there were the ‘faces” of Ground Zero: The incredible and unique men and women that went through harsh winter weather conditions, personal sacrifices and hardship to dig endlessly, day and night for 9 months to try and bring families some closure. Now, with so many 9/11 Rescue & Recovery workers dying of rare cancers, lung diseases and illnesses linked to 9/11 toxic exposure, we must fully appreciate their sacrifices.
9/11 Museum Workshop brings all these aspects of the “Recovery Period” to life in images, artifacts and through the breathtaking stories behind them, recorded and presented in BOSE Dolby Stereo in 4 languages: English, Italian, Spanish and French. Adding to the stories, our tech crews were able to find rare video from Ground Zero and lift the audio sound effects off that video, using them as background for our recorded audio stories. So, you will be able to hear the K-9 dogs barking, the trucks at Ground Zero, radio transmissions and even the Chaplains saying prayer into their Motorola walkie talkies during the Honor Guards for our fallen heroes. Quite simply, you won’t find a more realistic and accurate accounting of what it was like after 9/11 inside the World Trade Center site anywhere. Adding to this, we are the only 9/11 Museum to allow guests to pick up and hold certain rare artifacts, making it a much more life-like experience.
Our goal is to help you experience what it was like to work at Ground Zero and take part in the daily dramas that unfolded. Education promotes healing. Our Museum does not show graphic footage of the airplanes that morning nor anything that would make anyone relive the horrors of September 11. We are in essence, a kid-friendly Museum that has captivated the attention of visitors as young as five-years-old, who listen carefully to all 100 BOSE audio stories. We are a gentle segue for young and old alike to come and learn about the inner workings at WTC that took place just after the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Showing details of the morning of September 11 has never been our mission. Rather, we show a side to 9/11 that the public and media didn’t have access to - the Recovery - a 9-month period with the goal of locating the missing amidst a 100-foot-deep cavern of dirt, steel and twisted metal.
In 2013 & 2014 we were very honored to win Trip Advisor’s “Traveler's Choice” Awards from the millions of members of the Trip Advisor review community. Having a 5-star review average from the tourism community for 9 consecutive years is a testament that we have been able to accomplish our educational goals and affect our visitors in a positive way. Furthermore, being included in Trip Advisor's “Top 25 Museums in the USA” list for 2013 & 2014 was indeed an honor. As one of only three New York City Museums to make this coveted list - which included the Frick and the Metropolitan Museum of Art - we were motivated even more as a result to continue our mission to educate the public. In 2015, we were very honored to be included in Trip Advisor's “Hall of Fame” - a rare award given to a Museum with a 5-Star rating on Trip Advisor for five consecutive years.
9/11 Museum Workshop is very proud to have raised and donated many tens of thousands of dollars to “give back” to the FDNY and 9/11 families who lost loved ones at the World Trade Center. We have donated merchandise for other charities to raffle off, helped sick and disabled 9/11 first responders and made sizable donations to the FDNY Widows & Children’s Fund at FDNY Metrotech Headquarters in Brooklyn. We have even “adopted” certain disabled firefighters with no real way to pay their medical bills and helped them to that effect. While our primary focus is being a Museum for education and healing, we also have made it our business to champion certain causes. I am very proud to present to you the 9/11 Ground Zero Museum Workshop and help you take the journey that I took into the heart of Ground Zero during the cold Winter of 2001-2. I promise you that our Museum - which breaks the mold of any conventional Museum - will leave you with a greater understanding of the strength of the human spirit when faced with adversity. You will live through our daily successes, our failures and our emotions that we grappled with each day. You will indeed have a much deeper understanding of September 11 than what you saw on the television. I believe your experience at our tiny Museum will stay with you long after you have left, just as my experience at the Anne Frank House has stayed with me to this day and just as my 7-months at Ground Zero are forever embedded in my memory.
Gary Marlon Suson
FDNY Honorary Battalion Chief
Official Photographer at Ground Zero, Uniformed Firefighters Association
Founder, Ground Zero Museum Workshop