Soon after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History began collecting objects to document and preserve the material record of this important event in American history. The immediate collecting priorities focused on the attacks, the response and rescue efforts, and the commemoration that followed.

The collection we present on this site represents a work in progress. It embodies the best efforts of staff across the Museum to document and preserve a wide range of stories about September 11. Each object, as material evidence of the attacks and their immediate aftermath, is a piece of a large and complex story. The collections will grow as we gain historical perspective and a greater understanding of the events of September 11.

To commemorate the tenth anniversary of September 11, the National Museum of American History provided visitors with a close-up view of more than 50 objects recovered from the three sites attacked that fateful day—New York, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pa.—as well as recent acquisitions that relate to how American lives have changed since then. The Museum's presentation was an unusual blend of a public program and a simple display of artifacts—a display, not a full exhibition. For nine days only, the objects were be shown on open tables, without cases. The intent was to give visitors an intimate experience that will help make this historic day more real in their memories and stimulate them to reflect on its significance.

These objects are detailed and specific witnesses to the tragedy and horror of one day that profoundly changed the history of the United States. How did it affect your life? Here also you can explore all the other objects the Museum has preserved from September 11 and you can look back at an exhibition mounted in 2002, one year after the event. We expect that your exploration will evoke many memories and reflections. We invite you to share your story with us and the thousands of others who will visit this site. What does September 11, 2001 mean to you?