The events surrounding the opening of the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City this month have been undeniably beautiful, but some controversy has erupted over the choice to include a gift shop featuring some strange items.
The 9/11 Memorial Museum was just recently opened at Ground Zero, the site of the attacks on September 11, 2001 that killed nearly 3,000 people. Since construction began a decade ago, many people have been excited to see how the museum would honor those who lost their lives, but the gift shop that developers decided to include have angered people all over.
“It’s crass commercialism on a literally sacred site,” Kurt Horning, who lost his son on 9/11, said to the Washington Post. “It’s a burial ground. We don’t think there should be those things offered on that spot. If you want to do it, do it someplace else — but not right there.”
In addition to educational books, t-shirts, and posters, the museum’s gift shop also features items like dog vests, bracelets, stuffed “rescue dogs”, and cheese plates.
“They’re down there selling bracelets; they’re making money off my dead son,” said Jim Riches, father of a deceased firefighter. “I won’t go down there as long as those body parts are in the museum.”
In response to criticism, Michael Frazier, Senior Vice President of Communications and Digital Media for the museum, released a statement claiming that the items sold at the gift shop were selected with care.
“To care for the Memorial and Museum, our organization relies on private fundraising, gracious donations and revenue from ticketing and carefully selected keepsake items for retail,” said Frazier. “The museum store is open during this free dedication period when guests include 9/11 family members, rescuers, recovery workers, survivors and the residents of the local community.”
Still, many people say that the decision to sell memorabilia is tasteless and that some of it should be done away with.
“I think it’s an insult to families,” said firefighter Mark Medina, who was actually working as a police officer on 9/11. “I don’t think you should profit from anything going on down here.”
The 9/11 Memorial Museum officially opened its doors to the public on Wednesday.