9/11 Memorials and Museums Explained

I’ve received emails asking about the difference between the various 9/11 memorials and museums in New York so hopefully this will clarify things for everyone as it can be a little confusing.

The National 9/11 Memorial and Museum is the ‘official’ memorial, on the site of the Twin Towers. The memorial part is the reflecting pools in the footprint of the towers, with the names of those who died engraved around the edge; this is free to visit and you no longer need to book a pass in advance or go through security. The museum opened in May 2014 and contains artefacts and stories relating to September 11th, 2001. Tickets for the museum cost $24 for adults and can be booked up to 3 months in advance. Free admission is available on Tuesday evenings from 5pm to close but (and I speak from experience) it does get very busy then.

The 9/11 Tribute Center is across the road from the offical 9/11 Memorial and Museum and is run by the September 11th Families’ Association. It tells the story of 9/11 using personal objects, film and images and invites visitors to share their own experiences. Entry to the 9/11 Tribute Center is $15 for adults. The 9/11 Tribute Center also offers guided tours around the National 9/11 Memorial, lasting approximately 1 1/4 hours, and audio tours of the Tribute Center and National 9/11 Memorial, lasting around 45 minutes.

Finally, the Ground Zero Museum Workshop is an intimate one-room museum and features the personal images and items of the official photographer of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. The term ‘Ground Zero’ has fallen out of favor with many New Yorkers now but is still widely used by visitors. The Ground Zero Museum Workshop gets generally good reviews and is ranked the 13th most popular attraction in New York on Trip Advisor, but it is clear from the reviews that some people think they’re rating the official 9/11 Memorial, not the Ground Zero Workshop. Also, be aware that this exhibit is in Chelsea, a subway ride away from the site of the World Trade Center.

What do the passes include?

The New York Pass, CityPass and Explorer Pass each have different 9/11 options included, so make sure your pass includes the one you intend to visit:

New York Pass

National 9/11 Museum
9/11 Tribute Center (gallery only, tour not included)

New York Explorer

9/11 Tribute Center (gallery and guided tour)
Ground Zero Museum Workshop

New York CityPass

National 9/11 Museum

Remember, if you only plan to visit the 9/11 memorial then admission is free and you don’t need a ticket. Between April and September entry for New York Pass and CityPass holders to the National 9/11 Museum is after 2pm only; however, I have heard that if tickets are still available in the morning then they are allowing earlier entry.

I’ll leave you to decide which of the memorials and museums to visit but would recommend the National 9/11 Memorial as a must-see and the National 9/11 Museum if time permits.

Use my New York Pass calculator to find out which, if any, of the New York Pass, Citypass or Explorer Pass will save you money during your trip.

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