9/11 Tribute Museum Closes Its Doors As Another Institution Falls Victim to COVID-19

9/11 Tribute Museum
The museum was known for its tours of Ground Zero and its displays of the belongings of those who died in the New York terror attacks.9/11 Tribute Museum

The 9/11 Tribute Museum was founded by the relatives of colleagues of firefighters who died at Ground Zero on Sept. 11, 2001.

The 9/11 Tribute Museum in New York City, a beloved memorial to those who perished in the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, closed its doors Wednesday after battling funding shortages and drastic declines in visitors.

The center had been hanging by a thread for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic proved a death knell for the museum, which now exists only online. Its displays will be moved to the New York State Museum in Albany.

“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.

Though the site was a smoking pit of twisted metal, thousands were already arriving to witness the destruction.

More than five million people visited what became the 9/11 Tribute Museum in the 16 years it was open. For years, it offered guided tours of Ground Zero, reverently conducted by those who lost someone in the worst terror attack in the country's history.

The center displayed items salvaged from the wreckage, from contorted beams to ravaged turnout coats and helmets worn by firefighters.

It also offered private rooms for families of the dead to gather and grieve, and for them to leave mementoes of their lost relatives.

Though it received grants, the facility survived mostly on donations and admission prices. 

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 a slow uptick of patrons in the following years, only to be hit by the coronavirus epidemic and its devastating effects on travel and tourism.

Related Stories