The off-site museum had been struggling for months.
The 9/11 Tribute Museum, located blocks from Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, has permanently closed after almost 16 years.
The final day to tour the museum was Wednesday, August 17, 2022, and while the museum has been reporting trouble for months, there was little warning that the day would come so suddenly. The impending closure was announced on August 15, via NBC New York.
The COVID-19 pandemic ultimately led to the closure, as sharp declines in attendance over the last couple of years led to a great enough loss in income that operators were no longer able to afford to keep the museum open. "Financial hardships including lost revenue caused by the pandemic prevents us from generating sufficient funding to continue to operate the physical museum," Jennifer Adams, co-founder and CEO of the museum, told the publication. NBC reported that annual admissions had dropped from 150,000 in 2019 to just 26,000 last year.
The site was founded by FDNY widows who were part of the non-profit September 11th Families' Association to create a place to tell the stories of their lost loved ones in the terrorist attacks. Many of the volunteers and tour guides were survivors or family members of those who passed that day, sharing "person-to-person history" with visitors.
Gordon Huie, a doctor, was one such volunteer. According to NBC, he was a survivor of the second tower and also lost his brother that day. He spoke to one of the last groups to ever tour the museum. Huie helped the wounded that day, sharing with the group, "On that conference room table. No sheet or mattress. That's when I started sewing people back together again."
He told NBC that the museum was "part of our history, this is a part of America. It just hurts so much we're going to short change the world when we close this museum down."
Earlier this year, museum operators launched a Change.org petition, asking NYC Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul to help save it. That petition garnered over 33,000 signatures, but it wasn't enough. On August 6, an update read: "NY politicians have promised to help the 9/11 Tribute Museum with its pandemic-related financial woes. No help has been forthcoming."
Most of the museum's collection is slated to be transferred to the New York State Museum in Albany. Moving forward, their website will continue to provide educational resources and support, including continuing to share the stories of survivors and family members through video stories.