TROY, N.Y. – Victim’s family members from the September 11 attacks are disappointed the 9/11 Memorial Museum opened Wednesday with an admission price and gift shop.
The museum opened its doors to honor the lives lost and remember the terrorist attacks of September 11. But it’s not the memories and accounts of that fateful day that is drawing attention. It’s a gift shop that has drawn criticism.
Among pictures, quotes and artifacts dedicated to remember the tragedy the United States suffered nearly 13 years ago is a gift shop selling souvenirs.
Frank Tatum visited the museum Monday.
“The folks that created the museum – in a lot of ways – they had kind of a thankless job because there is no way they were going to please everybody,” he said.
The museum cost $64 million a year to run. It’s a non-profit, and money from admission and gift shop sales fund operations.
“I think our priorities are out of whack if we can’t find money for that,” Tatum said.
Tatum lost his mother in the South Tower on September 11.
“All of a sudden I got a really bad feeling,” he recalled.
He instantly called her once he got word of the attacks.
“I went over and called her voicemail immediately,” he said. “Worst day of my life and the worst day for a lot of people’s lives.”
Victims’ families and first responders were invited to view the museum before the doors opened to the public. Tatum was among them.
“I could still taste the dust,” he said. “I could still smell that sweet sickening smell; that kind of burning.”
He took several pictures while at the museum and reflected on what happened that fateful day.
“When I see all the other pictures and all the other families and all the other stories, that’s when it gets a little bit overwhelming,” he said.
Tatum said he’s not offended that a gift shop is at the museum, but he won’t buy anything from it.
“The way 9/11 has changed the world in so many ways, and they couldn’t find the money to fund the museum out of one of those budgets is the worst part to me,” he said.
Tatum hopes future generations will visit the museum and learn about what happened to the U.S. and how it’s changed.
“I don’t really feel so much that the museum is there for us,” he said. “I think it’s kind of there for people who might not be as familiar with it – for future generations. And that’s actually perfectly fine.”
The museum costs $24 for adults and is free to all family members as well as recovery personnel.