New York City’s 9/11 Tribute Museum, a memorial for those who died in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, was closed Wednesday due to funding shortages and steep declines in visitor numbers.
The center had been hanging on a thread for many years but the COVID-19 pandemic proved fatal to the museum. It now exists only online. Its exhibits will now be moved to Albany’s New York State Museum.
“Financial hardship including lost revenue caused by the pandemic prevents us from generating sufficient funding to continue to operate the physical museum,” said Jennifer Adams, co-founder and CEO of the 9/11 Tribute Museum.
The repository evolved from a humble beginning in a former deli just steps away from Ground Zero, where survivors gathered to commemorate the place where two hijacked jetliners flew into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
Even though the site was a smoldering pit of twisted steel, thousands had already arrived to witness the destruction.
Over five million people visited the 9/11 Tribute Museum over the 16 years that it was open. It offered guided tours of Ground Zero for years. They were led by the families of those who were killed in the worst terrorist attack in American history.
The center featured items from the wreckage, including contorted beams, ravaged turnout jackets, and helmets worn in firefighter uniforms.
It offered families of the dead a private space to grieve and mementos to be left behind.
Despite receiving grants, the facility survived largely on donations and admissions.
When the National September 11 Memorial & Museum opened in 2011, the smaller memorial saw a dramatic reduction in visitors. The 9/11 Tribute Museum saw an increase in visitors over the next years. But then, the coronavirus epidemic struck and it had devastating consequences for travel and tourism.