9/11 Tribute Museum in NYC to shut down

LOWER MANHATTAN (WABC) -- The pandemic has taken a costly toll on another New York City institution, the 9/11 Tribute Museum in Lower Manhattan.

The museum is expected to close permanently after a sharp decline in visitors and revenue since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"My fear is that history will be lost. The next generation is not going to know what people saw," Joan Mastropaolo, 9/11 Tribute Museum board member, said.

The stories told here are about what happened on September 12th, 2001 - the day after the attacks, the day New Yorkers and the world had to figure it out.

"They're not going to be able to hear what it was like to be in this community in the early days of the recovery effort, what it was like to walk through the streets, what it was like to see the trees covered in ash," Mastropaolo said.

Separate from the 9/11 Memorial at ground zero, the 9/11 Tribute Museum on Greenwich Street opened in 2006, originally by the widows and families of FDNY members who died in the attacks, as a support mechanism for all the victim's families. But sadly, like so many other entities, it could not survive and financially rebound from the pandemic shutdown.

"For me as a member of the 9/11 community, it's a very, very difficult decision (to close)," Mastropaolo said.

A difficult decision in particular because the educational programs and student tours will be gone. Lessons no longer taught by those who were there.

"It's unbelievable that something like this that gives back so much to the public is coming to an end," Lt. Steven Casquarelli, FDNY (Ret.) and tour guide, said.

An end to an impressive run - more than 500 thousand guided tours, five million visitors, from 141 different countries.

"I think it's important to keep this here, to let visitors see," museum visitor Anne Ly said.

"I don't know if I will ever truly believe that the museum is gone. I will hold this place very dear to my heart, for as long as I live," Mastropaolo said.

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