Why the 9/11 museum failed

And then I arrived at the gift shop. While mulling over whether to buy the infamous cheese plate, I considered the other items for sale. Jewelry, 9/11 Memorial Museum sweatshirts, FDNY T-shirts, rubber “Never Forget” bracelets, stuffed animals of police dogs, and a lot of books about first responders, police dogs, and firefighters. None of it felt crass, precisely, until it crossed my mind that there were human remains in this building. I left without buying anything.

The museum’s PR department has so far failed at the job of convincing New Yorkers of the museum’s benefits. The museum received further criticism last Wednesday when donors, including Condé Nast executives and former mayor Michael Bloomberg, held a VIP cocktail hour near the remains repository. The repository can be accessed only by the victims’ families. However, victims’ families who arrived for the museum opening were turned away at the door during the cocktail party, leading a woman to tweet that the swells were “enjoy[ing] dinner & drinks on top of my [brother’s] grave last night.”

Museum spokesman Michael Frazier seemed to take great pains to answer my questions in as few words as possible. For example, when I asked how the museum, which is estimated to cost $60 million per year to operate, was to be funded, his entire response was: “The memorial and museum does not receive city, state, or federal funding.”