NEW YORK—After a nearly two-year delay, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum is set to open in the spring of 2014. The president of the memorial and museum, Joe Daniels, appeared before the City Council Wednesday to discuss the progress and address concerns from the council.
Despite public outcry, Daniels stood by the decision to charge an admission fee to the museum, which will be in the low $20 rage for full price adult tickets. Family members of 9/11 victims will always be admitted free of charge.
“As a private nonprofit foundation, it’s our fiscal responsibility to ensure that the memorial and museum’s operations are fully funded,” Daniels said. The operating costs are roughly $60 million annually—most of which go to security costs according to Daniels.
Daniels said his staff estimated 2.5 million visitors to the museum each year, which is less than the roughly 5 million that attend the memorial annually. If each patron pays $20, the museum would generate $50 million in revenue on ticket sales alone. Memorabilia revenue, a figure not provided at the hearing, would be an additional revenue stream. Private fundraising will be used to raise additional funds.
New York state Sen. Chuck Schumer has sponsored a bill that would provide $20 million in federal funding. Nevertheless, Daniels acknowledged there would still be an admission fee.
Daniels said there would be some time each week for free admission but did not specify how much time. He added with more funding, either from the federal, state, or local level, the museum could expand the free admission time. New York City students are a first priority, Daniels said.
No Public Restrooms
Committee chair, Council member Margaret Chin asked Daniels about restrooms at the museum. The memorial, which has been opened since Sept.11, 2011, does not have any public restrooms.
The museum will offer public restroom to paying customers, but visitors to the free memorial will not be allowed to use them.
“Because there is a capacity constraint and because of the security concerns it will be a screened experience,” Daniels said. “It will not be the type of place you can just walk in and walk out of.”
He added the nearby World Center Transportation Hub, expected to be completed by 2015, would have public space that could be used for restrooms.
Parts of the 9/11 Museum did receive substantial flooding during Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. No artifacts were damaged, but Daniels said his team used the opportunity to learn how to stormproof the facility for the next storm.
Water poured in from the surrounding open construction site. Daniels said plans for watertight barriers for doorways and openings have been added as well as a procedure to evacuate artifacts to higher ground if a large storm is expected to hit the city again.