After months of being on life support, the 9/11 Tribute Museum in New York City is set to close.
The Lower Manhattan museum, which opened its doors in 2006, will be closing for good on Wednesday, Aug. 17, a decision brought on after a sharp drop in visitors since the COVID-19 pandemic. The small and intimate museum had been located on Greenwich Street, not far from the National September 11 Memorial Museum that sits next to the memorial pools at the site where the former Twin Towers stood.
"Financial hardships including lost revenue caused by the pandemic prevents us from generating sufficient funding to continue to operate the physical museum," said Jennifer Adams, the co-founder and CEO of the museum, which was started by FDNY widows part of the non-profit organization known as the September 11th Families' Association.
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The museum's reliance on international tourism has made it unsustainable during the pandemic. Annual admissions dropped substantially to 26,000 last year, compared to 150,000 in 2019.
Gordon Huie, a survivor who was in Tower 2 and whose brother was a victim, spoke to one of the last groups to walk through the museum. Huie, a doctor, helped the wounded.
"On that conference room table. No sheet or mattress. That’s when I started sewing people back together again," he told the group.
He called the museum "part of our history, this is a part of America. It just hurts so much we’re going to short change the world when we close this museum down."
The group said they had wanted a place to tell the stories of those they lost in the Sept. 11 attacks. Now, the museum's online presence will allow the group to keep providing educational resources and support for the 9/11 community. They will still be able to offer interactive engagement, including video stories of those impacted.
Much of the museum's collection will move up to the New York State Museum in Albany, with the group coordinating with donors to ensure that the exhibits and artifacts are handled properly and respectfully. The museum had welcomed more than five million visitors through its doors in the time since it opened.