The 9/11 Memorial Museum for families

Posted By Allison on Sep 10, 2014


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UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2015

Do you remember where you were on 9/11?

I do. I didn’t know any of the victims or heroes personally, but 9/11 remains an important event in my memory.

The new 9/11 Memorial Museum opened just a couple of weeks before our family trip to New York City, and for my husband and me, it was a must-see. We also hoped that it would be meaningful for our children, who weren’t yet born in 2001.

Is the 9/11 Memorial Museum a good choice for your family? Here is what you can expect.

9/11 Memorial

Two waterfalls have been constructed in the footprints of the twin towers that were destroyed by terrorists on September 11, 2001. They begin at ground level and fall into the earth. I could not see the bottom. The names of the people who were killed are engraved all around the waterfalls on a wall about waist high. The new One World Trade Center building towers overhead and new construction continues on nearby blocks.

It costs nothing to visit the Memorial and visitor passes are no longer required. I recommend the Memorial plaza for families with children of all ages.

911 Memorial Museum for Families

9/11 Museum

The 9/11 Museum is largely dedicated to the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001, but it covers the attack on the Pentagon and the hijacked airplane that was brought down by passengers in Pennsylvania as well. The museum also honors the victims of the terrorist bombing at the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993.

Much of the museum is underground, between the original Twin Towers. I was fascinated by stairs from one tower that were used by escapees, and the last column, which remained standing after the buildings collapsed and became a symbol of strength. The column was made into a memorial by many who helped in the aftermath of the destruction. Tribute gifts from friends and families of 9/11 victims are on display nearby.

The museum tells the story of the terrorist attacks in detail, from the terrorist bombing at the World Trade Center in 1993 to rebuilding afterward. Audio and video technology are used throughout the museum to take visitors through the morning of September 11, 2001 moment by moment though the eyes of those who were there. Artifacts large and small, including a smashed fire truck, are on display. Photos and biographies of the nearly 3,000 victims are honored. I wish I’d had time to read every plaque and experience every media presentation.

The 9/11 Museum houses the unidentifiable remains of some of the victims of the World Trade Center attack. They are encased behind a huge wall covered with one tile for each of the victims of the attack, each painted a different shade of blue. It represents the color of the sky.

9/11 Memorial Museum for families

Tips for Getting Tickets

The 9/11 Memorial website recommends purchasing timed tickets online in advance. We did this and it worked well, though there wasn’t much advantage to arriving early. Visitors with tickets timed before ours walked right in after their line cleared. You probably don’t need to reserve your tickets more than a few days in advance. It’s a roomy museum, so you may not need reservations at all.

The 9/11 Museum and Memorial is within walking distance of Battery Park where we took the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. If you arrive at the Statue of Liberty ferry when it opens at 9:30 am, you’ll probably want 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. reservations for the 9/11 Museum. You can bundle all three attractions at www.statuecruises.com. The price is the same.

Since our visit, the 9/11 Memorial Museum has been added to the New York CityPASS. If you’re planning to visit the Statue of Liberty and other popular New York City attractions like the Empire State Building, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History, CityPASS is a great deal. Read my full post about the New York CityPASS here.

Admission to the 9/11 Museum is FREE on Tuesdays from 5 p.m to close, with last admission at 7 p.m. A limited number of timed tickets are available online two weeks prior. We tried to get some of these and they were all gone within a couple of hours, so we bought tickets for another time.

911 Memorial Museum for Families

Is the 9/11 Museum good for children?

There are two ways to answer this question. First, is there anything in the museum that I wouldn’t want my children to see? Second, will my children appreciate the experience?

The 9/11 Museum advises discretion for children under the age of 10, and has created a museum guide for parents of children between the ages of 8-10. Link to it here. Our children were ages 7 and 10. The museum is dedicated to a terrible event in history, but we saw nothing that we felt was too graphic for our children at the 9/11 Museum.

Did my children get anything out of the 9/11 Museum experience? My 10-year-old daughter definitely did. She has learned about the events of 9/11 at school and at home, and I think that the museum helped her better understand what happened that day. She enjoys history and museums and was fascinated by the exhibits.

My 7-year-old son was not excited to visit the 9/11 Museum and was ready to leave much sooner than the rest of us. Now he tells me that he liked it and he learned some things, but he did not appreciate it much at the time. It had already been a long day.

For me, visiting the 9/11 Memorial Museum was one of the most meaningful experiences of our New York City trip. I strongly recommend it for families with older children and teens.

911 Memorial Museum for Families

Good to Know

Where: World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan, New York City. Use of public transportation is encouraged. Here is a map and information about local transportation: www.911memorial.org/getting-here. Expect security screenings.

When: 

  • 9/11 Memorial – Daily, 7:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.,
  • 9/11 Memorial Museum – Weekdays, 9 a.m. – 8 p.m., Weekends 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

How Much: There is no cost to visit the outdoor 9/11 Memorial. Here are prices for the museum, updated June 2016:

  • Adults: $24
  • Youth (ages 7-17): $15
  • Children (age 0-6): FREE
  • Seniors, U.S. Veterans and U.S. College Students: $18
  • Admission is FREE on Tuesdays from 5 pm to 7 pm

How Long: 2-3 hours

Amenities: There are no restrooms at the Memorial, but there are restrooms inside the Museum for paid ticket holders. There are gift shops inside the museum and on Vesey Street. Photography is limited inside the museum.

Website: www.911memorial.org

8 Comments

  1. I would love to see this memorial some day. I’m so glad you were able to visit and to share it with your children. I even talked with my four-year-old about the attacks this week (she wanted to know why we had a flag on our lawn that day). Awareness is so important.

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    • I agree. Occasions like this create opportunities to discuss important issues with our children.

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  2. I really need to do this the next time I go to NYC. It would be impossible to forget where I was when I heard about the first plane crashing into the tower…and then watching when the second struck. Gives me chills just thinking about it.

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  3. Considering visiting when we go to NYC soon. I think my son might be too young, so I appreciate your thoughtful review.

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  4. We’re going in December (brrrr…) and I’ll put this on our list also because our daughter asked this year for the first time what 9/11 is all about.

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  5. We’ve been to the Memorial when our daughter was 9 and found it was so tastefully done that I’d definitely be interested to visiting the museum now that it is open. It was much harder for my husband and I to visit than it was for her as we lived in NYC at the time and nearly lost a family member, so it was an emotional experience. Since we lived through it, it can be more impactful to adults so I think you need to also think about your own reaction and the reaction of your kids when they see your emotion.

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    • That is an excellent point to consider before taking children to the 9/11 Museum. Children may be more alarmed by their parents’ emotions than by the displays themselves.

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