THE NEW YORK Just one month before the 21st anniversary of the terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center, the 9/ 11 Tribute Museum in downtown Manhattan shuttered its doors.
The museum, which is six blocks south of the National September 11 Memorial Museum, offered talks and walking tours by victims’ relatives and survivors.
It was founded in 2006 by the charitable September 11th Families Association and closed on Wednesday. Its original name was the 9/11 Tribute Center.
Jennifer Adams-Webb, co-founder of the museum and CEO of the September 11th Families’ Association, stated, “It’s extremely terrible, the overhead of the space we occupy is really unsustainable.
According to Adams-Webb, the museum, which relocated to its current home on Greenwich Street in 2017, was severely impacted by the pandemic, totally closing for six months and seeing 26,000 visitors in 2021 as opposed to an average of 300,000 before the closure.
The situation can be resolved. The municipal, the state, and the federal government have all been contacted, but nobody has yet expressed a willingness to help, she said.
According to Adams-Webb, some of the objects and materials will be donated to the New York State Museum in Albany, while other show components will be reused by some smaller museums.
Over 500 people who lost family members on September 11 will have their images returned, and one large exhibit will need to be taken down.
“I believe the family photo album, the gallery that contained all of the photographs that were provided to us by families of their loved ones, has always been the heart of Tribute,” said Adams-Webb.
“You could see the variety in their ages, races, and origins. The loss of that day, which went beyond only the devastation of buildings, has really struck a chord with people.
According to Peter Bitwinski, a former employee of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and a survivor of both the 1993 and 2001 attacks who led tours at the museum, “They were wanting to stay till September 11th, but we need to depart by August 31.”
The impact of the museum, he suggested, “may be understated on New York.”
Bitwinski was on the 69th floor of Tower 1—where he had spent more than 23 years as an employee—when the building started to shake and a jet crashed into it.
“It was obvious that something awful had happened. I’m reeling and in astonishment, it knocked me onto my desk,” he recalled.
He and the small group he managed to leave with—which included a crippled coworker—took more than an hour and a half to show up on the street.
“With regard to person-to-person history, we do something that no other area does. People approach you after the walking tour when I’m just chatting and want to shake your hand or give you a hug. There are tears and a lot of emotion.
Delaney Colaio, 23, whose father and two uncles perished in the attacks on September 11, stated, “As you get older people have a tendency to treat 9/11 differently.”
“We Go Higher,” a documentary by Colaio, is about kids who lost family members in the attacks.
As with any historical occurrence, she claimed, things began to become dehumanized with time. “I had it when I was three, so it’s strange to experience it now at the age of 23.
Colaio expressed sadness at learning of the homage museum’s closure. “I’m here to help, but I’m not sure if there’s anything that can be done.”
It’s truly tragic. Tim Frolich, 58, a 9/11 witness from Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, said, “I think it’s awful that we’re sort of wiping away history.
I appreciate the economic climate and your concerns, he continued, but I believe more might have been done—or should have been done—to keep things running. “In my opinion, it’s like having a live encyclopedia.”
When United Airlines flight 175 crashed, Frolich was on the 80th story of the South Tower, about 10 floors above it.
I was lucky enough to escape the building as it collapsed behind me, he claimed. “It is a great loss not to have a site, especially in the city, that will mark, hold, and tell that story moving forward.”
More than 34,000 people signed a petition that was linked from the museum’s website, some of whom signed it long after it closed.
“The 9/11 Tribute Museum, a tiny, original 9/11 museum that connects visitors to those who were personally impacted by the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, is in immediate danger of closing owing to a pandemic financial crisis. The petition said, “We require immediate assistance.
“The authority to salvage Tribute lies with New York Governor Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams. Please sign this petition urging the elected officials to protect the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
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