It was the worst terror attack in American history. September 11, 2001 will always be remembered as the day when over 3,000 innocent people lost their lives. Everybody knows where they were and what they were doing when it happened. Everybody knows what was on their mind when they first saw the news on TV. Steffen was in New York City that day, which is just another reason the day takes on a special meaning for us.
The 9/11 Memorial Museum opened to the public in 2014. The first entry was only permitted exclusively for family members of the victims and survivors.
The completion of the underground premises, which includes more than 108,000 ft² spread over 7 floors, was delayed by more than 3 years. The construction exceeded its budget and ended up costing over 1 billion US dollars. Many people claimed that the admission fee of $24 was inappropriate and that the owners had turned Ground Zero into a tourist attraction for profit.
Frankly, I felt different about the museum when I first visited. My strongest feeling was fear. I didn’t love the area around the memorial, because it made me feel very depressed.
As expected, the mere sight of the first exhibition piece brought back all my emotions about 9/11. The feelings of that day and time after the terror attack: complete bewilderment! Two giant furcated steel beams, which were part of the outer skeleton of the twin towers remind you of what once was. They where completely torn to pieces when the Twin Towers collapsed and have been pieced together like a puzzle.
The instant I saw them – in front of my mind’s eye-the Twin Towers, which have shown the power financial strength of New York City I had to think about the tragic accident that saw them turned to dust.
In fast motion, as if I was put into a time machine, the museum brought me back to 9/11. As we passed a deformed Ladder Company 3 Truck of the NYC Fire Department, a charred elevator motor, one segment of radio and television antenna of the North Tower, the little stone stairs, just called the survivor’s staircase, box columns, street signs, bikes and buggies which have stood near the WTC caught up in rubble – we were overwhelmed. At the same time we couldn’t help but be impressed by how much detail and respect was displayed throughout the museum.
A glass door takes you to another museum inside of the 9/11 Memorial Museum. September 11, 2001 is what the signs say. Kids under 10 years are not allowed in this section of the museum. Kids 10 and older must be accompanied by an adult. Behind the glass doors the museum tells the story of how the normalcy of a beautiful day was overtaken by shock as the United States came under attack. Pictures of the towers right before the attacks are shown. Excerpts from live coverage right before the first aircraft was directed into the first tower are shown – for us this was hard to watch because the brutality of the events was once again displayed in all of its details.
This part of the museum is also more personal – you will hear phone calls from those who were inside the Twin Towers, listen to police radio recordings and see videos of firemen sitting in their trucks driving to the World Trade Center. Every important minute of this morning is shown: people on the ground, people inside the two towers and those inside the planes and the Pentagon. The timeline brings the visitors to reflect repeatedly, exploring the many questions and challenges of a post 9/11 world.
I must confess that I was not able to watch it all. It was too raw and emotional for me. What I really can say however, is that you get all the answers to your pending questions about 9/11. As I left this part of the museum, I really had to take a deep breath to calm down. I realized that the visit wasn’t for the faint-hearted. One of the employees told me, that they have about 10.000 single items inside the museum.
A big part of the museum is dedicated to those who left us. A quiet, contemplative space where you can honor and learn more about the 2983 people killed in the September 11 tragedy. This part of the museum is a small dark room, where you can sit down and listen to 2983 unique stories, one for each individual who passed away.
Finally another very powerful part of the museum: the slurry wall. This 65 ft high wall kept away the water from the Hudson River that streamed to the Word Trade Center during and after its construction. Surprisingly, it survived the attacks. Seeing a real piece of this wall in the museum is a reminder of how much worse the attacks could have been if it wasn’t for this amazing feat of engineering.
Due to the popularity of the museum, it is a good idea to purchase your tickets in advance. You will find the best prices online.
Our conclusion: The 9/11 Memorial Museum is a true masterpiece. The visit is a very emotional experience and should definitely be a part of your trip to the Big Apple. The 9/11 Memorial Museum has become essential part of Ground Zero over the past years and will make sure that September 11, 2001 will never be forgotten. To be fair, we would not recommend a visit with children. For those who don’t want or can’t afford to pay 24 bucks for a ticket, it would be good to know that there is free admission for the 9/11 Memorial Museum on Tuesday evenings.
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