The Opening of 9/11 Memorial Museum in NYC

Visitors in front of the 9/11 Memorial line up to buy museum tickets.

After nearly a decade of design and construction and an estimated cost of over $700 million, the 9/11 Memorial Museum opened to the public last week. There was some controversy, as there has been every step of the way during this monumental project, mostly surrounding the 9/11 Museum's gift shop, the soon-to-come cafe, and the lavish cocktail party held on site the night before. Most reactions, however, have been positive both in the press and among the thousands of New Yorkers and tourists who visited during the first couple of days. 

Ladder 3, one of the fire trucks from the 9/11 scene, at the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

The Perspective Of Someone Who Was in NYC on 9/11

I went to the 9/11 Memorial Museum on the afternoon of opening day. It's impossible to "review" the 9/11 Museum in any of the usual ways. I've lived in NYC most of my life, was in the city on that day, and like many of us, knew people who died in the Towers, and many others who made it out of the area, covered in soot but alive. Seeing the day recreated here, however respectfully (and it is all exceedingly tasteful and well-designed), all the ruins and relics, the photographs and videos and eye-witness recordings, and the devastating gallery of the victims, well… I'm just not sure it's a necessary experience for those of us who were here. The dozens of exhibits, both individually and taken as a whole, didn't add anything to my understanding, and I don't feel like I "needed" the emotional catharsis it all provoked.  

The Last Column inside the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

An Emotional, Educational Experience For Generations to Come

That said, for people who were far away on 9/11/01, or who don't really remember the day at all (even mid- to late-20-year-olds were just little kids back then), visiting the 9/11 Memorial Museum is likely to be both an emotional and educational experience. The space is enormous, the layout smart and "user-friendly", the objects exhaustive in their coverage of both the day and the weeks and months afterwards, and the notes clear and comprehensive. And even if you don't wish to enter the 9/11 Museum, not yet or maybe not ever, I would suggest visiting the Memorial grounds, which have just finally been opened freely to the streets, no more fences or security checkpoints. The enormous fountains in the footprints of the Towers, framed by the engraved names of all the victims, and now with all of the trees grown a bit and leafy, remain as powerful and as beautiful, a tribute as I can imagine. 

Visitors quietly watch videos and images of the 9/11 attacks inside the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

More Information: 9/11 Memorial Museum

There are three entrances to the 9/11 Memorial, within which the 9/11 Museum is located: on Greenwich and Liberty Streets, on Liberty and West, and on West and Fulton. The 9/11 Museum is now open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Cost is $24 for adults.

The reflection of the new One World Trade Center building in NYC.

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