As the National September 11 Memorial Museum prepares to open in New York, some outraged families are accusing the museum of cashing in on the tragedy and using victims' deaths to bring in the bucks.
The museum, which opens Wednesday to the public, takes visitors through the harrowing Sept. 11, 2001, in detail, sparing little of the horror of that day. The museum sits on the final resting place of many victims and houses the remains of victims who can't be identified.
And it also includes a gift shop.
The gift shop and the hefty $24 admission price have prompted angry families and politicians to lash out at the commercialism of terrorism. As one headline succinctly sums up, "The Worst Day of My Life Is Now New York's Hottest Tourist Attraction."
The New York Post outlined some of the items up for sale: silk scarves with Twin Tower images, jewelry, raincoats for dogs, plus New York Fire Department memorabilia. As one victim's father told the Washington Post, "... They're making money off my dead son."
But museum officials defended the gift shop, saying the items were carefully selected to honor the heroes and victims of 9/11. In so many words, a museum executive also said the museum needs revenue streams from tickets and gift shop purchases.
The Sept. 11 museum is also far from the only place marking a tragedy -- the Oklahoma City bombings, Washington, D.C.'s Holocaust Museum, Pearl Harbor -- to have a gift shop attached. But reaction has been almost exclusively negative regardless:
The 9/11 Museum charges $24 entry and has a gift shop. Museums have a way of showing us who we are, and not only through their displays.— Teju Cole (@tejucole) May 19, 2014
Having a gift shop at NYC's 9/11 Museum is unseemly on many levels. It's built on hallowed ground where human remains may still be.— JD (@nyliberal44) May 20, 2014
9/11 museum gift shop’s 'crass' souvenirs spark outrage. What outrages me is the unaffordable admission cost, http://t.co/UheOvvdS2U— Neil Russo (@neilinozone) May 18, 2014