Jan Ramirez on the National September 11 Memorial & Museum

Jan Ramirez on the National September 11 Memorial & Museum

On October 20, 2011, The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage hosted a lecture and discussion with Jan Ramirez, Chief Curator and Director of Collections for the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City. She spoke about the interpretive planning process for the museum. Her talk focused on how museum staff has made difficult curatorial choices while maintaining broad historical context and still being aware of the cultural impact the museum would have in the present.

Watch excerpts below from a Q&A with Jan Ramirez, conducted by Nicole Steinberg, Communications Specialist for The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Jan Ramirez, chief curator and director of collections for the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City. Filmed at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage on October 20, 2011.

September 11 is an event that shaped our lives. There might be an instinct to speak about that day with extreme reverence, or to omit certain details out of respect. How do you avoid making the subject matter seem untouchable?


Jan Ramirez, chief curator and director of collections for the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City. Filmed at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage on October 20, 2011.

Does the 9/11 Memorial Museum mostly speak to the stories of of people who were involved in the happenings in and around Ground Zero? Are there ways in which the museum plans to touch upon the stories of those who were not physically there?


Jan Ramirez, chief curator and director of collections for the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City. Filmed at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage on October 20, 2011.

How do you decide which donated objects from outside individuals find their way into the museum’s collection? How do you sort and navigate through those items?


Jan Ramirez, chief curator and director of collections for the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City. Filmed at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage on October 20, 2011.

What is it like to work on this project? After sifting through the objects, experiences, and stories of 9/11, what do you come away with at the end of the day?


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