Photo: Amy Dreher.
Nearly every museum has a gift shop at the end. But, is it appropriate to have a goods-for-sale section when that museum is also a memorial? Both the Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Pearl Harbor Memorial have a store, but the newly opened National September 11 Memorial & Museum's shopping portion is now a point of major controversy. Some families of those lost in the attacks are offended by the presence of a money-making portion of the memorial — a place for commerce that exists in addition to the $24 entry fee.
Diane Horning, who lost her son in 9/11, calls the installment "crass" and "insensitive" in an interview with the NY Post. "Here is essentially our tomb of the unknown. To sell baubles I find quite shocking and repugnant," she told the newspaper. The "baubles" she refers to are T-shirts, jewelry, clothing, home decor, cell-phone cases, and even dog vests bearing tribute. Items range in price from $20 to up to $70. A notice about the online store reads, "All net proceeds from our sales are dedicated to developing and sustaining” the museum, thanking customers for helping to build "a lasting place for remembrance, reflection, and learning for years to come.”
Perhaps the issue here is not in the fact that a gift shop exists, but in the items it has on offer. Of course, no matter what caliber of souvenirs the memorial houses, the real hurt exists in returning to Ground Zero just 13 years after the attacks. September 11 was a tragedy felt personally throughout the city, so no matter what the museum turns out to be, the necessity of its existence is upsetting enough. (NY Post)