It evokes one type of horror to watch video footage of the World Trade Center towers crashing down or see still photographs of the towers in flames. I discovered, however, at the opening reception for “Remember 9/11: Reflections and Memories from New Jersey,’ on Wednesday, September 7, that it evokes a completely different set of emotions to see the disaster at the microcosmic level.
Consider how you might feel if you saw, mere inches in front of you — with no Plexiglas to shield you from its poignant, emanating, energy — a table and chairs, still thick with dust, from the Commuter’s Cafe, part of the underground complex beneath the World Trade Center. Or, set next to that, a long file cabinet drawer, stuffed full by someone who is likely now dead, with everyday paperwork, the words on each piece of paper completely legible. Or a lone turnstile from the World Trade Center PATH station, stilled forever, after its millions upon millions of turns. Or, torn in the tragedy from a limited edition cast of Auguste Rodin’s “The Three Shades,’ a fragment from a three-figure sculpture that was part of Cantor Fitzgerald’s art collection.
Or (this one protected under Plexiglas), the police bag containing the personal effects of W. David Bauer, head of sales at eSpeed/Cantor Fitzgerald — just what you’d expect in any New York professional’s pockets: a wad of twenty dollar bills, and an AmEx card and bank debit card, both melted as if plucked from a Dali painting. The bag was never opened by the family.
This is an exhibit not to be missed by any New Jersey adult or child. On view through Friday, September 30. newjerseystatemuseum.org.