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Fort Worth museum gets massive steel columns from World Trade Center

02/14/2011 10:29 PM

02/15/2011 5:07 PM

FORT WORTH -- Colleen Blair clutched her throat and stared at the tangle of rusted steel columns on a flatbed trailer. Emotion turned her voice to a whisper.

"This is a big day," said Blair, vice president of the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.

The columns make up a 6,500-pound, 36-foot artifact that was part of the World Trade Center's North Tower between the 100th and 103rd floors -- two stories above where an airliner crashed into the building on Sept. 11, 2001.

The columns arrived in Fort Worth Sunday night and will eventually become a permanent exhibit at the museum.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology traced the artifact's location, making it all the more appropriate for a museum, said Van A. Romans, museum president.

Of 13 pieces sent to Texas so far, it is one of the largest, and the only one that has been identified, he said.

It will be stored away from the museum until it is permanently displayed, Romans said.

"We won't do anything to the surface of it," Romans said. "It has a purity of form and a story to tell that's significant. To alter it could alter the provenance of the piece."

Bruce Benner, president of the Fort Worth architectural firm Gideon Toal, said his company will design the display to take advantage of its history.

"We want to reproduce as closely as we can how it was found, how it came to rest when it fell," he said.

Though a location hasn't been decided, Benner said designers are leaning toward installing the display outside at the museum's east entrance.

Benner said he hopes to finish the display in time for it to open on the 10th anniversary of the attack that destroyed the World Trade Center.

Carol Murray, a museum spokeswoman, said the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey donated the artifact to the museum. She said the exhibit will explain its origin and include an interpretation of the events of 9-11 and their international impact.

"They felt our museum would be able to tell the story behind it," Blair said.

Romans said BNSF Logistics paid to bring it to Fort Worth.

This article includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Terry Evans, 817-390-7620

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