Can the 9/11 Museum Keep the Iconic "Tribute in Light" Memorial Shining?

Can the 9/11 Museum Keep the Iconic "Tribute in Light" Memorial Shining?
"Tribute of Light," as seen from Brooklyn, NY
(Courtesy Barry Yanowitz via Flickr)

For the past 11 years two symbolic skyscrapers have illuminated the New York horizon in place of the fallen Twin Towers, in what is widely thought of as one of the most powerful and visible public art projects related to 9/11. The popular and highly visible sculpture has been faced with financial challenges in the past few years, even brewing speculation as to whether it would be discontinued due to high production costs. But a strategic handover of management from the Municipal Art Society (MAS) to the new National September 11 Memorial & Museum may prove to be the answer for both funding challenges and for securing the future of the iconic piece more generally.

“Tribute in Light,” as the work is known, was originally produced by two non-profit organizations, the MAS and Creative Time, in March 2002, six months after the attacks. Designed by John Bennett and Gustavo Bonevardi of PROUN Studios, the piece was based on the renderings and initial ideas of artists Julian Laverdiere and Paul Myoda for New York Times Magazine’s cover of its September 23, 2001 issue.


In a press release on the MAS’s website, it has announced its intention to transition the project’s management to the September 11 Memorial & Museum, in order to secure its future. According to the MAS, the museum's affiliated World Trade Center Foundation has been in discussions since last year’s anniversary to take charge of the work. An article by the Wall Street Journal lays out details of the deal, including the museum taking over the lease of the MTA’s Battery Parking Garage, where “Tribute in Light” is installed for three weeks each year and stored while not being exhibited.

The upshot, it seems, is that the iconic public artwork could become an exhibit associated, in some capacity, with the September 11 Museum — which seems wholly logical (though the Museum has been undergoing its own very visible woes lately, and recently had to once again delay its opening). While there are no new details on the arrangement — or new sources of funding yet (beyond the MAS’s donation site) — the 9/11 Museum and the MAS told ARTINFO yesterday that the piece has been added to the museum’s annual programming. “Tribute in Light” can be seen today through tomorrow, at dawn, and hopes are that it will continue under its new stewardship each year going forward­.