California museums commemorate Sept. 11 events

By Louise Chu The Associated Press
Tuesday September 10, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO — California museums are commemorating the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks with photography exhibits, film screenings and in Silicon Valley, a huge American flag made of red, white and blue CDs. 

With images of the attacks still emblazoned in people’s minds, museum curators say they’ve made an effort to approach the event from different perspectives. 

The precise moments of the attacks will be marked at the libraries for Presidents Nixon and Reagan in Southern California with candle-lightings, bell-ringings, the Pledge of Allegiance, national anthems and even a helicopter fly over. 

The Oakland Museum is taking a look back at California disasters over the past century and examines the state’s level of disaster preparedness in their exhibit, “State of Emergency.” 

In Sacramento, the Golden State Museum will waive its admission fee on Sept. 11 and will feature an exhibit on the role of the state in responding to the attacks, said Ross McGuire, the museum’s director. 

“We are somewhat uniquely prepared for this,” McGuire said. “We are a museum about democracy.” 

The museum focuses on California, including a display about its inherent natural disasters, such as earthquakes, McGuire said. The state’s preparedness to respond to natural disasters helped it respond to the man-made crisis. 

Muslims are the focus of an exhibit at the Arts Commission Gallery in San Francisco’s city hall titled “Freedom and Fear” with black and white photographs by Rick Rocamora of local Muslim residents coping with racial backlash after Sept. 11. The exhibit is presented in conjunction with “Hall of Reflections” by photographer Taraneh Hernarni that records the experiences of Iranian immigrants in America. 

San Francisco’s Exploratorium is showing a series of independent films, highlighted by a screening of “Underground Zero,” a collection of 13 short films by artists that were frustrated by what they call the “superficial rhetoric” of media and government after the Sept. 11 attacks. 

Also included in the film series is a 1945 documentary short, “In the Street,” by writer James Agee and “Kristallnacht,” a 1979 experimental short by Chick Strand that reflects on the night in 1938 when Nazi youths burned and looted thousands of Jewish synagogues and businesses throughout Germany. 

Liz Keim, the Exploratorium’s film director, said the films allow audiences to reflect on Sept. 11 in different ways. 

“There’s references to other things that allow us to think about the events around us without didactic narratives,” she said. 

The city’s Legion of Honor plans on hosting an “Interfaith Night” on the eve of the anniversary. The event features its current exhibition, “Eternal Egypt,” presenting an ancient civilization in which a variety of faiths coexisted. It offers a unique lesson for today’s society, said Pam McDonald, a spokeswoman for the Legion of Honor. 

The Tech, San Jose’s technology museum, chose to commemorate the event by displaying an American flag made of 1,000 CDs on which local schoolchildren wrote their hopes for the future of technology. On them, they envisioned the ability to convert garbage to fuel, flying cars and a cure for AIDS. 

“We wanted to do something that reflected who we are with a visual statement about being part of the community,” said Kris Covarrubias, a spokeswoman for The Tech, who added that they used CDs because “they’re reflective of technology and Silicon Valley.”