Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning

A large plaque in Memorial Hall reads, “No day shall erase you from the memory of time.” The quote from Virgil’s epic poem The Aeneid is surrounded by 2,983 individual blue tiles that comprise "Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning,” an installation by Spencer Finch. Every square is a unique shade of blue, reflecting the artist's attempt to remember the color of the sky on the morning of 9/11 and commemorating the victims of September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993.
Spencer Finch’s “Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning.” Photo by Jin S. Lee.

At the heart of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum’s mission is the promise to commemorate the 2,983 killed as a result of the 9/11 and February 26, 1993 attacks. The Memorial and the Museum fulfills this sacred responsibility in many ways—through memorialization, through education and, in some cases, through artistic expression.

One of the Museum’s most recognizable installations is a piece by artist Spencer Finch titled “Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning.” This work runs prominently through Memorial Hall, or the space that connects the two main exhibitions at bedrock in the Museum. This larger-than-life installation is part of the Memorial Museum’s permanent collection and was commissioned in 2014 before the Museum opened its doors to the public.

The piece is comprised of 2,983 individual watercolor squares—each representing a victim of the 2001 and 1993 attacks—and symbolizes the idea of memory. Many remember the beauty of the clear blue sky on the morning of 9/11. But, our own perception of the color blue might not be the same as that of another person. However, just like our perception of color, our memories share a common point of reference.

Within the larger art installation is the quote “No Day Shall Erase You From the Memory of Time” from Book IX of The Aeneid by Roman poet Virgil. Each letter was forged from recovered World Trade Center steel by New Mexico artist Tom Joyce. This quote suggests the transformative potential of remembrance and succinctly reinforces the 9/11 Memorial & Museum’s mission. Today, while the Memorial and the Museum are temporarily closed, these words remain as true as ever.

By 9/11 Memorial Staff

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