By Sarah Dorsey Chief Leader
The president and CEO of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum Jan. 23 announced that visitors will be charged a $24 fee to enter the museum when it opens, likely this spring. The museum foundation’s board of directors voted on the admission price last week, though a fee in that range had been long anticipated.
The 9/11 Parents and Families of Firefighters & WTC Victims released a statement reiterating its longstanding opposition to a paid museum.
Calls Fee “Prohibitive”
“The 9/11 [Memorial and Museum] is supposed to be a non-profit organization and a tribute to 9/11 victims,” the statement said. “It was created to tell the story of 9/11 to future generations about the worst day in American history. It was never intended to be a revenue-generating tourist attraction with a prohibitive budget and entrance fee.”
The group is headed by the relatives of fallen 9/11 first-responders, including former FDNY Deputy Chief Jim Riches, whose son, Jimmy, died in the attacks and who was himself sickened by exposure to the site’s toxins.
The group wants the National Park Service to run the museum, arguing that American battleground sites like Pearl Harbor and the Civil War battlefields are accessible to all and retain a sense of dignity.
The 9/11 memorial—including the sunken pools where the towers once stood—will remain open to the public, but the unidentified remains of the victims, which are housed deep underground, will be in the paid area. Victims’ families will be granted free museum admission, and it will also be free to the public for three hours each Tuesday night.
Just Covers Operations
Memorial President Joseph Daniels said the fee is necessary because the museum receives no governmental support for its operating costs; it has an annual budget of more than $60 million. Mayor de Blasio—and Mayor Bloomberg before him—called for Federal funding, noting the site’s national significance. But Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, one of Congress’s most ardent fighters against the national deficit, put a hold on a bill last year that would have provided $20 million a year for the museum.
A $24 admission fee ranks the site among the city’s most-expensive museums. The Museum of Modern Art charges $25 and the Guggenheim $22. In addition to its free Tuesday nights, the 9/11 museum will also offer discounts to seniors, children and students.