NEW YORK -- Visitors to the Sept. 11 memorial museum could relive the 2001 terrorist attacks in an ''immersive" area that surrounds them with pictures of the falling towers, the sounds of police sirens, and the last words of some of those who died at the World Trade Center.
The first piece of steel to be hit by a hijacked jet -- as well as lottery tickets and keys pulled from ground zero, and a contemplative area where visitors can leave personal messages -- are among other proposed exhibits for the museum.
The plans, presented in public workshops over the past month, offer the first glimpse of an institution that is likely to become one of the country's most visited museums. The ideas are also likely to prompt sensitive questions of how to tell the story of Sept. 11.
Recently, a freedom museum proposed for a space at ground zero was shelved after the World Trade Center families and others complained that the museum could foster inappropriate debate about Sept. 11 at the site of the attacks.
The memorial museum -- not scheduled to open for at least five years -- would be built around the twin towers' footprints and a slurry wall that are the last remnants of the trade center. Visitors would view exhibits while descending to the footprints 70 feet below street level, and then walk up again.
''The idea is to move people from devastation to renewal to recovery," said museum planner Jeff Howard.
Howard, hired to develop exhibits by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., the agency overseeing the rebuilding, said the museum would have an ''iconic artifact" such as a large piece of steel from the trade center near the entrance. Family members who want to privately mourn their loved ones will be able to board an elevator directly to a separate room where victims' unidentified remains will be encased.
Employee ID cards, paperweights, and china from the Windows on the World restaurant would be part of an exhibit about the history and importance of the trade center, Howard said. Visitors would have a choice of two ways to experience the events of Sept. 11, when hijacked planes slammed into the towers, killing 2,749 people.
One exhibit would focus on a fact-based account of the attack in New York, as well as the crashes of hijacked jets into the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field. The other ''immersive" experience would try to make visitors feel as if they were in the towers, with the sounds of sirens and even voice-mail messages left on Sept. 11 by those who died.