9/11 Memorial Museum Opens in New York City

9 11 Memorial Museum Joel Woolhead

There are in the United States — in cities across the country — more than 45 permanent memorials to those who died in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

These memorials have been built by various organizations over the years, and all of them are, properly speaking, “9/11 memorials.”

On Wednesday, May 21, the National September 11 Memorial Museum, located on the site in Manhattan where the World Trade Center buildings stood and collapsed, was declared open to the public.

The opening ceremony featured 24 police officers and firefighters carrying the “national 9/11 flag” — and it featured the removal of the gates surrounding the site — and surrounding the Museum, as it was being built — the first time the gates were removed since September 11, 2001.

If press coverage of the past 10 or 12 days makes it seem unclear just when opening day was, however, there’s good reason.

The Museum was dedicated May 15, in an hour-long ceremony that included President Obama, former President Bill Clinton, former New York Senator Hillary Clinton, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, former New York City mayors David Dinkins, Rudy Giuliani, and Michael Bloomberg, and New York’s present mayor, Bill DeBlasio.

Then, in the five days between the May 15 dedication and the May 21 official opening, 42,000 people visited the Museum, mostly family members who lost someone on September 11, and first responders.

It was during this period that family members, especially, were vocal in their objections to the design of the Museum, the presence of a gift shop, the high price people would be charged for tickets (adult admission is $24), and the fact that the Museum was operated by a nonprofit corporation rather than the federal, state or city government.

And after all that, it was not until May 22 — the day after “opening day” — that the Museum was finally open to the public, that is, to anyone who wanted to buy a ticket and go in.

The details of the Museum’s dedication and opening can be found on Wikipedia. The ambiguity surrounding the Museum’s opening date is, however, largely explained in this statement in the same Wikpedia article: “After many false opening date expectations, there was finally an announcement that the Museum [would be open] to the general public on May 21, 2014.”

In all, the Wikipedia article says, “exhibits in the Museum include 23,000 images, 10,300 artifacts, and nearly 2,000 oral histories of the dead provided by friends and loved ones, in addition to over 500 hours of video.”

And the Wikipedia article includes this description: “The Museum is an underground museum which has various artifacts of September 11, 2001, and pieces of steel from the Twin Towers, such as the final steel, which was the last piece of steel to leave Ground Zero in May 2002.

“It is built on top of the former location of the Sphere, a globe which stood in the middle of a large pool between the twin towers, that was battered but intact after the September 11 attacks. It was since moved to be displayed at Battery Park.”

The Wikipedia article continues: “The museum is located approximately 70 feet below ground, and can be accessed through an entry pavilion [of] a deconstructivist design, making it resemble a partially collapsed building which mirrors the attacks of 9/11….

“One of the walls of the underground museum is an exposed side of the slurry wall, the retaining wall that holds back the Hudson River and that had remained un-breached during and after September 11.”

Will you want to go?

If you will be traveling to New York City, will you want to visit the 9/11 Memorial Museum?

For many, to visit the Museum will be to relive the 9/11 attack from the perspective of those who experienced it. The exhibits are designed primarily to re-create and preserve the experience of the attack.

Some, of course, may want to visit the Museum merely as a new public attraction, and some may visit to learn more about 9/11.

Visitors during the first days the Museum was open to the public reported favorably on their experience. Some allowed themselves greater immersion in the tragedy of the attack — others became exhausted emotionally and either absorbed no more, or left. Many bought things at the gift shop.

The 9/11 Memorial, next to the Museum, is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Admission is free, and the visitor passes once necessary to visit the Memorial are no longer required.

For more information on visiting The National September 11 Memorial & Museum, click here.