Visitors will have to pay admission when the National September 11 Memorial & Museum opens at the World Trade Center site in April 2014. This has angered some families who lost loved ones on 9/11. The proposed fee is not a voluntary donation as is the case for many nonprofit museums, but a fixed admission fee of $20 to $25.
Jim Riches, a retired FDNY deputy chief who lost his firefighter son, feels the museum is making a profit off of the “worst day in American history.” Other victims’ families have called this decision disrespectful and insulting.
Even those who did not lose anyone that day are uncomfortable with the admission announcement. Not only will people be charged to visit the museum, but there is also a $2 service fee charged for online and phone reservations to see the outside memorial that includes the reflecting pools.
The 9/11 Foundation defended the $2 fee saying that it helps with operational costs for both the memorial and museum. The total cost of the museum will be around $700 million. After construction on the museum is finished, the $2 service fee will be eliminated. This fee does not apply to 9/11 family members.
Anthony Guido, speaking for the museum, said the exact amount of the admission is still under consideration but that it would definitely be at least $20.
Some victims’ families do not object to an admission price. Debra Burlingame helped in the planning of the museum. Her brother was a pilot of the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 that hit the Pentagon. She rationalizes the fee because in order for the museum to operate, it has to “get the money from somewhere.”
Michael Frazier, another spokesman for the museum, stated that as a nonprofit, it relies on public support and the price of admission is comparable to other similar institutions. He also noted that there will be discounts, time set aside for the public to enter for free, and fee exclusions for 9/11 family members.
The museum is not relying solely on public support. Over the years, it has received $425 million from state and federal governments and Port Authority, as well as an additional $450 million from private donations. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave the museum a low-interest loan of $15 million to help with a budget shortfall.
Museum officials are anticipating 2.5 million visitors when it opens next April. At approximately $25 per person, that would more than cover the projected operating cost of $60 million.
Written by: Cynthia Collins, Guardian Correspondent