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New York cop, wife’s 9/11 photo exhibit coming to Field Museum

Paul McCormack talks about events surrounding attacks Sept. 11 2001 while viewing installatiphotography exhibit titled 'Ground Zero 360 - Never

Paul McCormack talks about the events surrounding the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, while viewing the installation of a photography exhibit titled "Ground Zero 360 - Never Forget" at the Field Museum Friday, August 26, 2011, in Chicago. McCormack's wife, Nicola McClean (not pictured) photographed the attacks' aftermath while McCormack oversaw rescue operations as an NYPD precinct captain. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

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“Ground Zero 360” runs Sept. 2 through Jan. 1, 2012, at the Field Museum, 1400 South Lake Shore.

The exhibit is included in basic admission, which is $15 for adults, $10 for children ages 3-11 and $12 for seniors (65 and older) and students (with valid ID). Discounts are available for Chicago residents. Chicago police officers and firefighters are free.

The museum is offering free admission for Illinois residents Sept. 6-11 as part of its discount days.

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Updated: November 4, 2011 11:03AM

Among the hundreds of moments of horror and heroism Paul McCormack witnessed as a New York police commanding officer in the days after Sept. 11, 2001, he remembers the checkered uniform hats.

He saw them on Chicago police officers directing traffic in lower Manhattan in the days after the terrorist attacks.

“It was a great, great feeling,” McCormack said. “I think the people of America came together. I never felt more American than after Ground Zero.”

McCormack and his wife, Nicola McClean, a photojournalist, knew they wanted to take what they had seen on Sept. 11 and the days that followed to other parts of the country and world. With the help of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the two developed the exhibit “Ground Zero 360,” which debuts at the Field Museum on Friday.

The exhibit features 81 of McClean’s photographs of the aftermath as well as the uniforms of a New York firefighter and police officer who died in Sept. 11, pieces of steel and granite wreckage that visitors can touch and audio recordings of police officers working in New York that day.

Chicago was the natural starting point for the exhibit, McCormack said. There are many memorials planned for New York on the 10th anniversary. They believed that those outside of New York on Sept. 11 were deeply moved and also want to commemorate what happened.

“We love Chicago, my wife and I,” McCormack said. “There is a really, really close bond between the New York Police Department and the Chicago Police Department. Chicago was our first choice, and we’re very, very honored to be here.”

Janet Hong, the museum’s project manager for exhibitions, said while the Field is known for dinosaurs and fossils, it’s a museum of anthropology as much as a museum of natural sciences.

“We’re very interested in the commonalities of human cultures,” she said.

Field officials were immediately interested when contacted by McCormack a year ago, Hong said. The exhibit is on the second floor next to the Maori meeting house, a museum space reserved for discussions about community concerns.

The space also features windows that look to the west, something she believes resonates with the exhibit.

“You see the Sears Tower and the Loop,” she said. “It’s very powerful to look at what happened in New York and refresh your eyes and think about our city, our beautiful city.”

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