NEW YORK – After years of delays because of funding disputes, engineering challenges and a nearly disastrous flood, a museum dedicated to victims of the 9/11 terror attacks will open to the public in mid-May in a giant cavern beneath the World Trade Center site – with a world-class admission price of $24.
National 9/11 Memorial and Museum President Joe Daniels said Friday that tickets would go on sale for the museum in March for the spring opening.
That $24 price is in line with other major tourist attractions in New York City. It costs $18 to take a ferry to the Statue of Liberty, $25 to see the Museum of Modern Art and $27 to visit the observation deck of the Empire State Building.
But the fee drew protests from critics. Unlike many other big museums in the city, there wont be the option of paying less than the suggested donation.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was among those who expressed displeasure.
But he also said the best way to lower the admissions charge would be for the federal government to cover a portion of the museums operating expenses.
I think we deserve substantial federal funding at this museum, de Blasio said. What could be a more nationally important site than this? Its a national tragedy and people come from all over the country, all over the world, to see it.
Under the pricing plan approved by the foundations board, there will be no admission charge for relatives of 9/11 victims or for many thousands of construction workers, police officers, firefighters, and others who assisted in the rescue and cleanup operation at ground zero. Admission will also be free for everyone between the hours of 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Tuesdays.
The foundation set an annual budget Thursday of $63 million to operate the museum and plaza. As of now, all of that money will have to come from admissions fees and private donations.
Some 9/11 families have been critical of the foundation, saying the steep ticket charge is a disgrace.
Retired Deputy Fire Chief Jim Riches and Sally Regenhard, who each lost firefighter sons in the attacks, have lobbied for the entire site to be turned over to the National Parks Service.
It was never intended to be a revenue-generating tourist attraction with a prohibitive budget and entrance fee, they said in a statement.