The Sept. 11 Memorial Museum has become a topic of criticism and controversy. Although the museum is not open to the public, victims' families were recently invited for a special tour. Following the tour, several families were outspoken in their criticism of the museum's "greed and commercialism."
The guests were specifically upset about the museum's souvenir gift shop. In addition to mugs, key chains, and stuffed animals, the shop offers numerous specialty items, which were criticized as insensitive and outrageously expensive.
The specialty items include painted rocks, which are being sold for $40 each. Guests also have the option of purchasing $64 earrings, $95 scarves, and $40 hoodies.
Diane Horning's son was working in the North Tower when the World Trade Center was destroyed. She expected the museum to respect her son's memory. Instead, she was bombarded with overpriced trinkets:
"To me, it's the crassest, most insensitive thing to have a commercial enterprise at the place where my son died... Here is essentially our tomb of the unknown... To sell baubles I find quite shocking and repugnant...I think it's a money-making venture to support inflated salaries, and they're willing to do it over my son's dead body."
In addition to numerous artifacts, the museum also houses "8,000 unidentified body parts." As Horner's son was never recovered, his remains are likely included in the display.
Attorney Norman Siegel, who represents several victims' families, said the museum should consider relocating the remains to a separate location.
"Take the remains out of the museum and then I think there will be less opposition to the selling of the trinkets and the hats and shirts."
Jim Riches' son, a firefighter, was also killed in the terrorist attacks. Riches said the price of admission will discourage guests, who simply cannot afford the price:
"My son's friends are going to have to pay $24 to go down and pay their respects... I think that's a disgrace. It's the only cemetery in the world where you have to pay a fee to get in."
Although the gift shop appears insensitive, and the admission is somewhat pricy, the museum's operating budget is nearly $63 million. As reported by Gothamist, the museum is not owned or operated by the government. Therefore, the museum does not receive any governmental support or funding.
The Sept. 11 Memorial Museum is not labeled as or operated as a cemetery. However, for many families, the site has similar significance. Officials argue that the gift shop and admission price are necessary to keep the memorial and museum open.
[Image via Telegraph]