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9/11 Museum Gift Shop And Cafe: Appropriate Or Insulting To Victims?

A woman peers into the reflective glass of the gift shop at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in lower Manhattan. (credit: Monica Miller/WCBS 880)

A woman peers into the reflective glass of the gift shop at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in lower Manhattan. (credit: Monica Miller/WCBS 880)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Is it appropriate to have a gift shop, cafe and a black-tie affair at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.

The museum, which opened to the public Wednesday, has been the subject of much criticism since last week’s dedication. Some have been angered by the presence of the museum’s gift shop, which sells coffee mugs, T-shirts and tote bags; a formal event at the museum last week attended by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg; and plans to open a cafe at the site where nearly 3,000 people were killed in the 2001 terrorist attack — some of whom’s unidentified remains are housed at the museum.

As WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reported, some family members of victims and survivors say it’s crass commercialism that has no place on such hallowed ground.

Crystal Bailey, who visited the museum Wednesday, said she’s conflicted and considered the same question during a recent trip to Memphis, where she toured the Lorraine Motel, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

PHOTOS9/11 Museum Dedication | Inside National Sept. 11 Memorial Museum

“That’s a civil rights museum with Martin Luther King,” she said. “They turned that hotel where he was murdered into the same kind of museum.”

Elaine, who lost friends on 9/11, said she, too, understands why some are upset.

“No, I do not believe that there should have been a black-tie event,” she said.

Marcia, who was wiping tears from her eyes as she left the museum Tuesday, said she sympathizes with the arguments of 9/11 families. However, the Bronx resident said the momentos for sale are just a reminder of the power of the human spirit.

“It’s not even about a gift,” she said. “It’s about the moment.”

Museum officials say revenue is needed to pay for operating costs, which amounts to about $65 million a year.

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