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9/11 Memorial Museum Taking Shape Beneath Ground Zero

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WBZ-TV's Lisa Hughes Lisa Hughes
Award-winning journalist Lisa Hughes is a news anchor for WBZ-TV News...
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NEW YORK CITY (CBS) – Under ground zero, the 9/11 Memorial Museum is taking shape. It’s hard to believe it, but organizers say, when the 9/11 Memorial Museum opens in late-April or early May, they want people to feel uplifted when they walk through the doors.

“We have a capacity, as human beings, for dealing with the worst things imaginable and overcoming them,” said Museum Director Alice Greenwald. “In some sense, we’re all survivors of 9/11.”

That story will be told in concrete and steel, seven stories underground. Workers are now creating a space for visitors to remember and pay tribute.

Museum Director Alice Greenwald and 9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels showed WBZ-TV’s Lisa Hughes the progress.

On 9/11 Daniels had just arrived in lower Manhattan when the first plane hit. The twisted steel from that very point of impact hovers like a sculpture in the museum.

Daniels says working at the there has “been the privilege of a lifetime.”

“The amount of solidarity and support in the aftermath shows us, when the times require, we can take care of one another,” Daniels told Hughes.

When visitors come into the museum, they will walk into what’s known as Foundation Hall. It includes the slurry wall that, literally, held back the Hudson River when the towers collapsed and the very last piece of steel that was removed from the World Trade Center site in 2002.

“Thirty seven-feet tall and it’s all about the thousands of people who worked, toiled for nine months to search for the remains of victims,” said Greenwald.

The museum also houses Engine 21, only the shell still intact and a cross created when Building 6 collapsed nearby.

Engine 21 in the 9/11 Memorial Museum beneath ground zero. (WBZ-TV photo)

Engine 21 in the 9/11 Memorial Museum beneath ground zero. (WBZ-TV photo)

“One of the most important artifacts we have is the survivor staircase,” Daniels says.

Thousands of people ran to safety down stairs that will take museum visitors to what’s known as “sacred bedrock.”

Greenwald and Daniels say it was hard to balance the need to educate and the need to protect the sacred site, so the museum features two distinct spaces. In the footprint of the North Tower, there will be a memorial exhibition.

“That entire exhibit is about getting to know people, not for how they died, but for how they lived,” says Greenwald.

At the South Tower site will be a historical exhibition. There will be mention of Osama Bin Laden and the hijackers, and the acts of kindness the nation’s resolve after 9/11.

“This didn’t happen to somebody else’s family. It happened to all of us,” says Greenwald.

Organizers still don’t know what they’ll charge to get into the 9/11 Memorial Museum. They’re hoping the government will help with some of the funding. But they do say 9/11 families will always get in free.

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