Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum

Oklahoma City is home to a significant historical site commemorating a tragic event in American history – the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. This memorial and museum honor the victims, survivors, and those affected by the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995.

This article will explore the various aspects of this local attraction, including its history, design, and features.

History of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum

The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum was established in response to the devastating bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995. The attack claimed 168 lives, including 19 children, and injured over 500 others. In the aftermath of the tragedy, a task force was formed to plan and create a memorial that would pay tribute to those affected by the bombing. The memorial was dedicated on April 19, 2000, exactly five years after the attack, and the museum opened a year later.

Design and Features

The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum covers 3.3 acres and consists of several symbolic elements that convey the story of the bombing and its impact on the community.

Some of the key features of the memorial include:

  • The Gates of Time: These monumental twin gates frame the moment of the bombing at 9:02 AM. The East Gate represents 9:01 AM, the minute before the attack, while the West Gate symbolizes 9:03 AM, the moment after the bombing when the healing process began.
  • Reflecting Pool: A shallow pool of water lies between the Gates of Time, offering a serene space for reflection and contemplation.
  • Field of Empty Chairs: This poignant installation features 168 empty chairs, each representing a life lost in the bombing. The chairs are arranged in nine rows, symbolizing the nine floors of the Murrah Building, each bearing a victim's name.
  • Survivor Tree: This 90-year-old American elm tree survived the blast and has become an emblem of resilience and hope. The tree is surrounded by a circular promenade lined with bronze plaques honoring those who aided in the rescue and recovery efforts.
  • Children's Area: A dedicated space for children features a wall adorned with tiles painted by children from around the world, expressing their thoughts and feelings about the tragedy.

The Museum Experience

The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum offers visitors an immersive and educational experience, telling the story of the bombing and its aftermath through interactive exhibits, artifacts, and personal accounts.

Some highlights of the museum include:

  • A Moment in Time: This exhibit captures the events of April 19, 1995, through audio recordings, news footage, and personal testimonies.
  • Investigation and Justice Gallery: This section of the museum explores the extensive investigation that led to the arrest and conviction of the bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.
  • Survivors' Wall: A powerful display featuring photographs and stories of the survivors, offering a glimpse into their lives and the challenges they faced after the tragedy.
  • Inasmuch Foundation Uncover-Discover Lab: This interactive lab allows visitors to engage in hands-on learning experiences related to forensic science, engineering, and journalism.

Visiting the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum

The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum is at 620 N. Harvey Avenue, Oklahoma City, OK 73102. The memorial is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, while the museum operates from Monday to Saturday, 9 AM to 6 PM, and Sundays, 12 PM to 6 PM. Admission fees are required for the museum, but visiting the outdoor memorial is free.

Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum is more than just a local attraction; it is a powerful reminder of a community's strength, resilience, and unity in the face of tragedy. A visit to this memorial and museum offers an opportunity to reflect on the past and find hope for the future.