18 Years Later: 9/11 Memorial & Museum “Art Cart” and The Anniversary in School Webinar

911 Memorial

Although 9/11 occurred in New York City, its impact was felt across the country and beyond. Much has changed in the 18 years since 2001, including the lower Manhattan landscape, which as of May 2014, is home to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum (also known as the 9/11 Memorial & Museum)-now one of New York City’s most visited sites.

In addition to a $5 million investment to support the capital campaign that funded construction of the memorial and museum, The New York Life Foundation has partnered with the 9/11 Memorial & Museum for the past three years through its support of the 9/11 Memorial Art Cart: Activities for Kids and The Anniversary in the Schools Webinar. 

“Partnering with the 9/11 Memorial & Museum on the 9/11 Memorial Art Cart and The Anniversary in the Schools Webinar helps in our efforts to provide resources that build a level of comfort and resiliency in youth,” said Maria Collins, vice president, the New York Life Foundation.  “Trauma, grief and bereavement can be a difficult subject matter for educators and parents to discuss with children and students, and we hope that these resources make these difficult conversations easier.”

Photos above and below by:  Jin Lee

9/11 Memorial Art Cart: Photo by Jin Lee

Deepening Understanding of 9/11 Through Art and Exploration

The 9/11 Memorial Art Cart is a portable cart that is located on the 9/11 Memorial Plaza during spring break and the summer months and provides free, self-guided explorations and art activities, written in age-appropriate language. The activities offer an educational option for visitors with children to learn about the attacks, the stories and symbolism behind the 9/11 Memorial and the rebuilt World Trade Center Site.

The Art Cart is supervised by a staff member from the 9/11 Memorial & Museum Education Department. Volunteers aid and work directly with visitors in tribute-making. Teen Ambassadors, who take part in the Museum’s high school afterschool program, offer support during spring break.

Visitors can choose one of a series of different laminated themed booklets for self-guided explorations through which they learn about the 9/11 Memorial and World Trade Center. The explorations give parents and caregivers the language and tools to discuss 9/11 and the Memorial with their children and are comprised of two tracks: (1) Self-Guided Explorations and (2) Hands-on activities.

The following exploration and activities are offered this summer: 

  • Meaningful Adjacencies Exploration (Recommended for ages 6 – 12) Visitors are introduced to the significance of “meaningful adjacencies” and the stories behind individual victims. They are directed to parapets around the 9/11 Memorial to learn about the relationships between victims. Adjacencies from each of the nine categories are included: February 26, 1993, World Trade Center North, World Trade Center South, First Responders, Pentagon, Flight 11, Flight 77, Flight 93, and Flight 175.
  • Along with this exploration, visitors choose a pair of names they learned about and create an impression of those names with crayon and wax paper. Using stickers and other collage materials, they can embellish their impression to create their own tribute.

Following the self-guided exploration, participants return to the Art Cart for a related hands-on extension activity including one of the following: 

  • Tribute Paper Flowers:  Visitors learn about the “birthday roses” initiative, and then make a flower using tissue paper and pipe cleaners. They are encouraged to leave the flower as a tribute for one of the victims on the 9/11 Memorial parapets for other visitors to see.
  • Survivor Tree Leaves:  Participants learn about the significance of the Survivor Tree. They receive a precut paper Survivor Tree leaf, on which they can draw a picture and leave a message of hope and compassion. Leaves are tied with ribbon on the railing surrounding the Survivor Tree as a tribute of hope and resilience.

Tribute Paper Flowers Photo by: Nicole Mitri

911 tribute paper flowers

Parents and Children on the Art Cart

In response to a survey taken by the New York Life Foundation, parents said they felt a sense of comfort bringing their children to the Art Cart, as many had expressed concerns discussing this content, yet wanted their children to learn about this important piece of history. 

Here are a few reactions from parents and kids about their experience with the cart:

  • “My children were born post 9/11, so they have no concept of what happened. This teaches them a little about it- it’s super beneficial!”-Parent
  • “The cart has a great impact. We can show our kids these pictures later in life, to show them that they engaged.”-Parent
  • “It creates a connection, to help them understand. 9/11 is a huge part of our family history, so the cart makes it personal to them- they feel that connection. Also, kids love arts & crafts, so it’s enjoyable too.”-Parent
  • “We learn about these people in honor of their memory and to keep their spirit alive”–Parent explaining the principle of the activity to their child.
  • “They’re family, so they can’t be split up”–Child after being asked what the importance of meaningful adjacencies are.

Survivor Tree Leaves Photo by:  Nicole Mitri

911 survivor tree leaves

Teaching 9/11 in the Classroom

For students born after 9/11, this tragedy can be difficult to comprehend. In 2016, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum launched the Anniversary in the Schools Webinar to help students understand the events and build connections to people impacted. The program is filmed inside the Museum and introduces teachers and students to personal stories connected to the attacks. On the anniversary, participants can also interact with the Museum staff via an interactive live chat. Last year, 200,000 participants from all 50 states and 13 countries including Canada, the Netherlands, Mexico, Japan, France, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Peru, Italy, Israel, England, Spain, and Ireland tuned in.

“Our support helps the 9/11 Memorial & Museum to broaden their digital reach and introduce participants to history through firsthand accounts, making the content more impactful,” stated Collins. “Through this partnership, we have gained a better understanding of the demand, expectations, and feasibility for future online education programming, which will help us to improve our partnerships and the resources we develop for years to come.”

For more information, visit https://www.911memorial.org/

Key Dates

9/11 Memorial Art Cart: Activities for Kids on the Memorial Plaza is offered select Saturdays through early October.

Anniversary in the Schools webinar launches September 11.

Media contact

Lacey Siegel
New York Life Insurance Company
(212) 576-7937