Some people tour museums as their hobby. One museum not to be missed is the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. It tells the story of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building April 19, 1995. The bombing killed 168 people, including children in the building’s day care center.
The museum has a large outdoor area that sets the stage before entering the museum itself. There is a monument called the Gates of Time. The East Gate represents 9:01 a.m., before the bombing, and the West Gate represents 9:03 a.m., when life changed forever in Oklahoma City at the time of the bombing.
Other outdoor features include the Reflecting Pool, Field of Empty Chairs, Survival Wall, The Survivor Tree, Rescuers’ Orchard, Children’s Area, and The Fence. The quiet, reflective area prepares visitors for the chaos of the bombing represented inside the museum.
The museum tour begins with exhibits about the history of the Murrah Building and information on which agencies were located in the Murrah Building, including the day care center.
Visitors then move into a room where they listen to an audio recording of a hearing that was taking place in a nearby building. The recording is interrupted by the blast, and then doors open to the next part of the exhibit, which shows the wreckage of the building after the bombing.
There are actual shoes, briefcases, purses, keys, and other personal belongings of the victims located in exhibits. There are photos of the wreckage, of rescuers, and news stories from around the world play on television monitors.
There are tributes to the victims, interviews with survivors, and coverage of the investigation, capture and trial of terrorists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, and exhibits about the creation of the museum.
The museum is tastefully done and respects the victims, the first responders, and the people of Oklahoma City.
The museum is part of the National Park Service and is definitely worth a visit. The museum is open nearly all year long. It is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
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