The 9/11 Memorial Museum Has A Gift Shop, And It’s Not Popular

If you’ve visited New York City in the past couple years, you’ve probably visited the 9/11 Memorial, with its cascading water fountains etched with the names of those who lost their lives 14 years ago today. You’ve probably walked solemnly around the memorial, and perhaps even seen the new One World Trade Center towering overhead, in various states of completion. The memorial is a respectful tribute to those who died, and it’s a testament to the strength, resilience, and love of our country.

As a New Yorker, I’m constantly reminded of that day, I’ve been to the memorial several times, and am aware of its importance. However, with the new museum and gift shop, my perception of the memorial has changed, and that’s not okay.

The museum itself borders on too exhibitionist: I understand the importance of remembering the event, but with FDNY trucks and shrapnel tucked behind glass, I’m left with a bad taste in my mouth, aware that the tragedy of that day’s events and the reverberations that it caused around the world are now being packaged as an attraction. But perhaps I’m being sensitive.

However, the gift shop is a real problem.

As The New York Post reports, the 9/11 Memorial Museum not only has a gift shop, which is crass enough, but it features such ridiculous items as blankets, earrings, ornaments, a cheese plate (enhanced, no less, with stars to show where the planes crashed), dog vests, sweatshirts, panoramic photos of the pre-9/11 New York skyline (as if we needed a reminder of what has materially changed), Pandora charms, flags, pins, and other crap that turn the entire memorial into what seems like a money-grubbing, capitalist enterprise.

It’s disrespectful to the families of the victims who have been invited to tour the museum, free of charge, ahead of its official public opening on Wednesday, Sept. 16th. At the very least, the gift shop and cafe should have been closed during this time. At most, the gift shop should not exist at all, or instead only contain books of history and other practical purchases that would add to the solemnity of the atmosphere.

This is where it all happened. This is where thousands of people died. This is where you can buy a blanket emblazoned with a pattern of the Twin Towers.

Diane Horning, who lost a son on 9/11, told the Post that she finds the entire thing shocking:

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.

It’s truly saddening to know that a memorial and museum meant to honor the victims and their families is becoming a spectacle, and is causing such turmoil in the hearts of the families. A modicum of respect should be expected.

The 9/11 Memorial Museum has stated, via a plaque at the site, that “All net proceeds from our sales are dedicated to developing and sustaining” [the museum]. Thank you for helping to build a lasting place for remembrance, reflection, and learning for years to come.” However, it also states that they rely on donations and admission sales to run the museum.

Perhaps a gift shop is simply unnecessary? Perhaps they could go without selling a $95 silk scarf printed with an image of the fallen towers? Just a thought.

About The Author
Lisa Lo Paro
Lisa is a freelance writer and bibliophile living on the outskirts of New York City. She likes 2 a.m. with a good book, takes cream in her coffee and heavily filters her photos. Check out her blog The Most Happy, her Instagram, and Twitter.