How Did Truther Art Enter the 9/11 Museum Collection?

"The museum categorically disagrees with this perspective."

Anthony Freda (2006).
Anthony Freda (2006).

The latest addition to the collection of the National September 11 Memorial Museum is a work of art inspired by the 9/11 Truth movement, which suspects that the US government was involved in or somehow behind the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

As reported by Newsweek, the Village Voice commissioned the piece from illustrator Anthony Freda in 2006 for an article (cleverly titled “Fakes on a Plane”) about the Truther movement. Though the artist initially planned to poke fun at Truthers in the illustration, he found that some of their claims couldn’t be so easily dismissed. “At the onset I was hostile to these ideas,” Freda admitted to Newsweek, “but by the end of my night of research I said that these are serious people with questions that haven’t been answered.”

Freda, who donated the artwork to the museum, does not consider himself a Truther, but the collage clearly questions the accepted narrative about the events of 9/11. A man surveys a web of images displayed on a blackboard, with lines of string suggesting connections between the CIA and Osama Bin Laden, who is labeled as a “patsy” in handwritten chalk scrawl. “We need a Pearl Harbor” says a text drawn next to an image of Dick Cheney, while the Twin Towers burn in the center of the frame.

While the painting has yet to stir any controversy, it seems likely to upset many New Yorkers, particularly the friends and families of those who died during the attacks. It would not be the first hot-button issue to come to a head at the museum: the high ticket prices and kitschy gift shop have come under attack for attempting to cash in on the tragedy (see 9/11 Museum Pulls Gift Shop Cheese Plate, As Victims’ Families Vet Merchandise), while atheists unsuccessfully battled to remove the cross-shaped beams found in the rubble of the World Trade Center from display (see Court Okays World Trade Center Cross at 9/11 Museum).

The museum currently has no plans to display Freda’s work, and does not see their decision to accept the piece into the collection as problematic. “This artwork by a witness of the terror attacks in New York City, being accepted in the collection, references a perspective held by some who dispute historical accounts of September 11,” chief spokesman Michael Frazier told Newsweek. “While the Museum categorically disagrees with this perspective, does not in any way endorse it, and refutes it through our historical exhibitions, we recognize these baseless views were taken by some after 9/11 and see the artwork only as an artifact of that movement.”

Behind Truth Art, an upcoming documentary by John Massaria, will explore Freda’s 9/11-inspired work.


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