New York: Years before the Sept. 11 museum was built at the World Trade Center, a storefront visitor center across the street opened to offer tours led by victims’ relatives, survivors, and others with personal ties to the trauma and tragedy of 9/11.
Sixteen years and five million visitors later, what is now the 9/11 Tribute Museum is poised to close within weeks, its leaders say, barring a last-minute rescue from millions of dollars in debt. “We’ve really been hanging on by a thread,” co-founder and CEO Jennifer Adams-Webb said, and it’s now “a make-or-break situation.”
While financial pressures have been building for some time, leaders say the museum has been pushed to the brink by the coronavirus pandemic, which hammered tourism on the heels of a costly 2017 move.
The 9/11 Tribute Museum traces its roots to 2004, when a group founded by victims’ relatives decided to turn a former deli, steps away from ground zero, into a focal point for the commemoration of the 2001 terror attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. The trade center was a massive pit and construction site in 2004, but visitors were already coming in droves.