Keep in mind that in order to cover its operating costs, about $65 million per year, the museum will require financial support from more than just the $24 admission fee.
Visitors can go to the memorial waterfalls for free any day of the year. In addition, admission will always be free for 9/11 family members, active military, and the first responders and recovery workers. For the next two years, all schoolchildren will be admitted free as well. And every Tuesday evening, the museum will be free for everyone. This is all made possible because of very generous private donations, and we should be grateful for them.
A gift shop is also an important part of the museum’s revenue stream. In a recent New York magazine article entitled, “Why the 9/11 Museum Gift Shop Offends Us” writer Matthew Hutson summed it up this way: “Sure, tragedy is translated into money, but that money is translated right back into another sacred value, commemoration of the tragedy.”
The families of victims cannot let a gift shop that sells memorabilia or a party that thanks donors taint the museum and what it stands for. It is important to understand that the money generated will allow the museum to exist and commemorate a tragic day forever.
That being said, I do disagree with a celebrity chef opening a café on the museum site. To me, enjoying a good meal does not coincide with reliving tragedy and thoughtful reflection.
The museum is not profiting from death; it is ensuring that the lives that were lost will be remembered forever.
I strongly encourage everyone to schedule a visit. It is so important that we educate the generations to come about what took place on Sept 11. Al D’Amato, a former U.S. senator from New York, is the founder of Park Strategies LLC, a public policy and business development firm. Comments about this column? ADAmato@liherald.com.