The 9/11 Tribute Museum struggled to get revenue back to pre-pandemic levels, making it impossible for the museum’s founding group, the September 11th Families’ Association, to get out of debt from its lease.
“Financial hardship including lost revenue caused by the pandemic prevents us from generating sufficient funding to continue to operate the physical museum,” co-founder and CEO Jennifer Adams-Webb said, according to ABC 7 New York.
“We’re millions of dollars in debt with our lease, and to try and make that up on top of our annual operating cost is almost impossible without visitors or some intervention from our government,” Adams-Webb added.
The 9/11 Tribute Museum’s closing comes just weeks before the 21st anniversary of the day radical Islamic terrorists flew two hijacked airplanes into the Twin Towers in Manhattan, killing 2,753 Americans. Through the years, the museum also acted as support for survivors and those who lost loved ones in the attacks.
“Everything we’ve done, I’ve been proud of,” said volunteer Peter Bitwinski, who survived attacks at the World Trade Center both on 9/11 and during the 1993 bombing at the North Tower. “The amount of handshakes and tears I’ve experienced over the 13 years is what made it all worth it.”
Adams-Webb told the New York Post that two-thirds of the museum’s annual revenue comes from admissions to the museum. “We were completely closed for six months in 2020. We had been averaging 300,000 visitors a year … and last year we had a total of 26,000 visitors, so it completely annihilated our earned income,” she said.
On top of the challenges from the COVID pandemic lockdown, the museum struggled to get people to come after the shutdown ended. The number of visitors to the museum drastically declined from half a million in 2011 to just 26,000 in 2021.
Thankfully, most of the artifacts preserved by the museum will go on to Albany, where they will continue to be displayed at the New York State Museum for future generations of Americans.
While New York City still has its well-known 9/11 Memorial and Museum at Ground Zero, the loss of the 9/11 Tribute Museum stings for everyone who never wants America to forget what happened on that horrific day in September 2001.
“It’s a huge loss for those people who called this their second home, where they could come and share their story,” Adams-Webb commented. “… There’s no museum that has the dual mission we have to support the community and also educate visitors that come here.”