9/11 Museum Pulls Gift Shop Cheese Plate, as Victims’ Families Vet Merchandise

The 9/11 Memorial Museum at night. Photo: courtesy the museum.

In response to widespread criticism of its gift shop offerings (see artnet News article), the National September 11 Memorial and Museum will enlist family members of the victims to assess merchandise before it becomes available for sale, reports the Wall Street Journal.

According to Joe Daniels, the president of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum Foundation, family members who serve as board members will review items inside the museum, in order to better gauge whether or not they are appropriate to sell at the emotionally-charged site.

The museum was built at the bedrock level of the World Trade Center, and many have expressed their unhappiness that 9/11-themed knickknacks and apparel are being sold at what they see as a sacred tomb.

“Once the public starts coming in, you learn so much,” Daniels told the WSJ. “We in no way presume to get everything right. We will accept that criticism, absolutely.” Accordingly, the museum has already made some changes, including removing the infamous 9/11 cheese plate from the store.

In addition to offering visitors the chance to bring home a keepsake to commemorate the lives lost during the tragedy, the gift shop will help fund museum operations.

Also less than favorably received? A planned cafe from Danny Meyer, New York’s reigning king of hospitality. “As New Yorkers,” the chef told the WSJ, “we feel proud that the museum asked us to present a sensitive solution to how to provide museum-goers a place to sit and take comfort as they reflect on their experience.”

He assured Crain’s New York that the simple restaurant will not be a destination dining spot, but will rather be an amenity for ticketed museum visitors.

Such sensitive issues are also in play in gift shops at the Pearl Harbor Memorial and the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. Presumably, the fledgling 9/11 Museum will soon learn to strike an appropriate and respectful balance in its own merchandise offerings.

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