NYC should fund the 9/11 Tribute Museum


The Editorial Board

The 9/11 Tribute Museum opened to the public for the last time on Aug. 17 before shutting down permanently two weeks later.

The museum cited the major financial blow doled out by the COVID-19 pandemic as the primary reason for its closure.

“We’re millions of dollars in debt with our lease, and to try and make that up on top of our annual operating cost is almost impossible without visitors or some intervention from our government,” CEO Jennifer AdamsWebb said.

This is an unfortunate loss that should be rectified. New York City should do more to save an institution committed to preserving its people’s history.

The museum on Greenwich Street was established in 2006 by the 9/11 Families’ Association.

It contained exhibits that documented the day of the attack, as well as what happened after, from the rescue and recovery efforts to the gradual rebuilding of lower Manhattan.

The museum also contained educational modules for different subjects, a vital resource for schools as it provided students with an interactive means to learn about 9/11.

The museum-facilitated walking tours conducted by volunteers of survivors, first responders, residents and family members also stopped running.

Students used to go to the museum to hear volunteers share personal stories about the attack’s impact on their lives.

These exhibits were incredibly powerful because of their ability to provide visitors with a direct link to history rather than a secondhand account.

“Everything we’ve done, I’ve been proud of,” volunteer Peter Bitwinski said. The amount of handshakes and tears I’ve experienced over the 13 years is what made it all worth it,” added Bitwinski, who was working in the North Tower during the 9/11 attack.

Though some educational resources will be preserved online and other physical artifacts will be transferred to the New York State Museum in Albany, the loss of a physical space to serve as tribute to the events and lives lost on 9/11 is a huge blow to all New Yorkers.

The 9/11 Tribute Museum is just as important as other cultural institutions in the city. There should be more efforts to help reopen the museum and maintain its operations fully.

Although the September 11th Families Association did receive some funding through Shuttered Venue Operating Grants, a federal COVID-19 relief program, the city and New York State should do more to support the museum.