Insider’s Guide to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum

January 27, 2022

Those who lost their lives and loved ones in the tragic 9/11 attacks live on through a memorial and museum dedicated to their remembrance.

"No day shall erase you from the memory of time" are the words that echo through the chilling halls of the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

The quote is embedded in steel recovered from the original World Trade Center. It rests in the middle of 2,983 paper panels in every shade of blue, which form an art installation called Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning. 

Each paper panel communicates remembrance. Remembrance of the tragic days that were September 11, 2001, and February 26, 1993. Remembrance of each life lost and remembrance of the void left which will never be filled again.

This haunting installation is situated in the 9/11 Museum, which rests below the 9/11 Memorial Plaza. Replacing the twin towers formerly taken down by terrorist attacks, both the memorial and museum exist to pay homage to those who suffered in the tragedy. 

Close up of Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on That Tuesday Morning, a 9/11 Art Memorial made of concrete and blue tiles with the words "NO DAY SHALL ERASE YOU FROM THE MEMORY OF TIME" in an all caps service font with lights at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in NYC, New York, USA

photo credit: National September 11 Memorial & Museum via Facebook

About the 9/11 Memorial & Museum

The aftermath of the attacks consisted of almost nine months of wreckage cleanup. Afterward, the decision was made to place a memorial in the footprints of the North and South towers rather than rebuild the World Trade Center exactly as it was.

Out of more than 5,000 design proposals entered in an international design competition held in 2003, architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker decided the outcome of the World Trade Center with their design called "Reflecting Absence."

It all came together when the 9/11 Memorial & Museum opened in 2014, after its dedication by Barack Obama on May 15, 2014.

Interesting Fact: 9/11 memorial ceremonies are held throughout the country each year, often at various city halls, to honor the lives forever changed by this fateful event.

Guests enter the museum from aboveground on the 9/11 Memorial Plaza. Once belowground, the space designed by architect Davis Brody Bond consists of a labyrinth of poignant artifacts, images, and videos. 

Related Post: Ultimate Guide to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum: Coupons, Discounts, and Deals

Interesting Fact: It typically takes at least 50 years to be deemed historically significant enough to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. However, due to the significant weight of the 9/11 attacks, the World Trade Center qualified to be on the list in February 2004.

Wide shot of the Memorial Glade, a concrete walk way surrounded by trees in NYC, New York, USA

photo credit: National September 11 Memorial & Museum via Facebook

Why You Should Visit the 9/11 Memorial & Museum

Stationed in the exact footprints of the original twin towers, this memorial honors what once stood but is no more.

Before entering the museum, the approximately one-acre reflecting pools outside are fed by waterfalls which collectively make up the largest artificial waterfall in North America. The bronze parapets lining the pools have engravings of the victim's names.

Also outside the museum is the Survivor Tree and Memorial Glade. The Survivor Tree is a tree that survived the attacks and continues to live despite every effort to destroy it -- a sign of resilience.

The Memorial Glade was designed to honor those who were injured or lost their lives due to the aftermath of the attacks, such as responders who were harmed by toxins in the air. 

Related Post: 45 Unbelievable Facts About New York City

The museum is a 110,000 square foot opportunity to re-walk the events of 9/11, from the day before, to the day of, to the day after the tragic event. The journey through these three sections of the museum is not easy. But, it brings the story to life so that we never forget. 

The memorial exhibition, called In Memoriam, allows visitors to get to know those who lost their lives in the 1993 bombing and 2001 terrorist attacks. 

Features in the museum include:

  • Interactive exhibits
  • Artifacts
  • Images and films
  • Personal testimonies
  • The Survivors' Stairs
  • The Last Column
  • The slurry wall

Interesting Fact: Cleanup of Ground Zero came to a close on May 30, 2002, when the Last Column was removed. This was the very last piece of World Trade Center steel to be taken out. Today, the Last Column stands in the museum and is covered with signatures and words added by rescue and recovery workers who aided in the aftermath of the calamity.

Close up photo of the Last Column with a concrete wall behind it at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in NYC, New York, USA

photo credit:
National September 11 Memorial & Museum via Facebook

Tickets

If you're looking to pay your respects at the Memorial Plaza, consisting of the reflecting pools, Survivor Tree, and Memorial Glade, you can do so for free.

If you want a more in-depth look at the 9/11 events, victims, and survivors, you'll need a ticket to visit the museum. You can grab a ticket for $26 to get access to the entire museum. 

Pro Tip: Be sure to show up at the time specified on your ticket. Museum staff may not grant access to early or latecomers. Also, keep in mind you cannot re-enter after exiting the museum building.

Related Post: Your 2022 Guide to Musical Legends & Icons on Broadway in NYC

Honoring those who lost loved ones or were involved in the tragedy, many individuals can get into the museum for free, such as:

  • 9/11 family members
  • Rescue and recovery workers from 9/11
  • Museum members
  • Police officers and firefighters who are part of the NYPD, PAPD, or FDNY
  • Active/retired U.S. military
  • Children under age 7 (we advise parents use discretion with children under 10, the museum may not be suitable for all ages)

Pro Tip: Due to COVID-19, keep in mind specific exhibits are closed at this time, such as the Atrium, the Auditorium, the Education Center, Reflecting on 9/11, Rebirth at Ground Zero, and some alcoves.

When to Go

Both the Memorial Plaza and museum are open for visits all year long, but consider the weather when planning a visit to the Memorial Plaza since it is outside.

The 9/11 Memorial Plaza is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition, the museum is currently open Thursday through Monday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

9/11 Memorial & Museum Visit Tips

Feel free to stroll through the museum at your own pace to thoroughly soak in the moving exhibits. However, this experience is one you won't want to rush. On average, a visit takes about two hours. 

Special live talks take place in the auditorium on the L-2 level.

Photo Alert: Photography is permitted at the 9/11 Memorial Museum. However, keep in mind this is a location deserving of utmost respect.

After getting a photo or two, put your phone away. The museum does not allow talking on the phone.

All guests must wear a mask. In addition, all guests 12 and older should come prepared to show proof of vaccination.

View looking at the One World Observatory from the water with a light pink and orange sunset behind it in NYC, New York, USA

photo credit: ONE WORLD OBSERVATORY via Facebook

Nearby Restaurants

When planning your visit to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, don't overlook adding a restaurant stop to your itinerary. We've scouted out some local places to check out before or after your museum visit.

  • Catch a great view of the skyline and the freshest farm-to-table fare at Liberty Bistro.
  • Trinity Place is located inside a bank vault and offers a varied menu with everything from turkey burgers to ravioli.
  • Merchants River House also boasts great views and an American Bistro menu, including mac & cheese waffle cones. 
  • Visit Sauce & Barrel if you're craving classic pizza.
  • Just need a pick-me-up? Grab a cup of joe at Black Fox Coffee.

Related Post: 16 Most Romantic Restaurants in New York

Where Else to Go 

While you're in New York City, there are a couple of other places you won't want to miss. 

To take your experience to the next level, purchase your 9/11 Memorial & Museum tickets along with tickets for the Lower Manhattan Guided Tour. Then, explore Ground Zero and other sites throughout the city, such as Wall Street and Trinity Church. Your guide will give you insider information to bring historical events to life.

After your tour, One World Observatory offers unbeatable views of the Big Apple from a new perspective. This interactive experience is located at the top of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, One World Trade Center, on floors 100, 101, and 102. 

Transportation and Parking 

There are many ways to get to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. Here are some tips for navigating the bustling transportation paths of New York City. Click here to view a map.

Pro Tip: You can access the memorial and museum at three different places: the intersections of Liberty and Greenwich, Liberty and West, or West and Fulton.

By Subway

  • A, C, 1, 2, or 3 trains to Chambers Street.
  • Take the A, C, J, Z, 2, 3, 4, or 5 trains to Fulton Street.
  • 2 or 3 trains to Park Place.
  • E train to the World Trade Center.
  • Take the R train to Rector Street.
  • R train to Cortlandt Street.
  • 1 train to WTC Cortlandt.

By Bus

  • M55 Southbound and get off at Broadway and Thames Street.
  • M55 Northbound and get off at Trinity Place and Rector Street.
  • M20 Southbound and get off on South End Avenue between Liberty Street and Albany Street.
  • M22 Southbound and get off on Vesey Street between North End Avenue and West Street.

By Car

Keep in mind there is no designated parking available at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, and street parking can be hard to come by in this busy area.

The Battery Parking Garage at 70 Greenwich Street is nearby. SP+ parking facilities offer other parking options, as well.

By Ferry

Related Post: NYC After Dark: The Top Things to Do in NYC at Night

Three people looking at the interactive Signing Steel exhibit at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in NYC, New York, USA

photo credit: National September 11 Memorial & Museum via Facebook

Honor Victims at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum

So many things will never be the same due to this tragic event. The lives of those who lost loved ones. The skyline itself. The entire country. Even so, the temptation to forget history always threatens us.

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum exists to thwart that temptation. Those who were directly and indirectly affected by the 2001 terrorist attacks and the 1993 bombing can find solace in the fact that the stories will live on. 

We must always remember so that we can say in agreement, "No day shall erase you from the memory of time."


michaela smiling holding magazine with body of water in background

Written By Michaela

Michaela is a journalist who views every story she writes as an adventure, leading her to explore new places and meet new people. She is based in the Midwest ...

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