NEW YORK (RNN) – The National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum is doing everything possible to ensure people can commemorate and learn about the 2001 attacks – even if they're not in Manhattan.
A planned exhibition Tuesday on the 11-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center will feature some innovative ways that the memorial has gotten a worldwide community involved.
Although the museum will not open this year, about 4.5 million people have already visited the memorial since it opened last year.
Sean Anderson, chief technology officer for the 9/11 Memorial, explained that the memorial is riding the booming success of social and mobile media to make sure as many people as possible can participate.
That includes an award-winning, interactive mobile app; a unique way to find victims of the attack; and abundant resources for educators, family members of victims and tourists wanting to pay respects.
"Most of what you see was built over time, so we approached it very methodically," Anderson said. "We used all the available communications channels. It all fits in really with what we're doing. Over the past five years we steadily built most of these pieces. We spent a lot of time building at least one interactive piece a year, and it's usually driven by a need that the memorial has."
Explore 9/11 is a mobile app the museum developed and features a seven-stop walking tour of 9/11 sites. The tour is completely interactive and allows people to relive events of the day's attack while touring the city, from the comfort of their own homes or wherever else they choose.
The app won a gold medal last year from the American Association of Museums.
"It has an augmented reality mode that you can use anywhere," Anderson said. "We have thousands of photographs that we have collected through our Make History interactive website – makehistory.national911memorial.org. What it does is looks at the Make History system that we've built and surfaces photos of 9/11 submitted from around the world and through the augmented reality. You can view then and now perspectives of events. You can look at what a place looks like now and superimpose it on what it looked like on 9/11 with an image from the Make History collection. It's actually a really cool experience."
The museum also developed a system to help visitors easily navigate the names on the memorial. This became a necessity because names are not listed in alphabetical order; they are listed by affiliations and relationships.
That system allowed for first responders serving with the same company or family members and friends who died in the attacks to be listed side-by-side.
The app is available at names.911memorial.org, at kiosks at the memorial site or at online app stores.
Because the attack made a significant mark on the history of America, the museum also recognized the importance of parents and teachers speaking to children about the attacks.
Numerous online resources – such as lesson plans and interactive timelines – provide a creative ways to teach school-age children about the significance of the events that happened 11 years ago.
"We always say we will never forget, and we think it's important to get as much information as possible who want to commemorate and learn about 9/11."
Construction on the memorial museum has been on hold for the past year. On Monday, a day before the 11th anniversary, the New York/New Jersey Port Authority and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum Board announced an agreement to go forward with construction that "will not stop until the museum is completed," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.
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