NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – The 9/11 Museum opened to the public on Saturday for the first time since cultural institutions across New York City shut down six months ago to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Visitors have to wear masks, and only 25% of the museum’s maximum capacity is permitted inside, CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reported. Visitors will also have their temperature taken before being allowed inside.
The museum has always required timed entry tickets purchased in advance, which will continue.
Jersey City resident Clarissa Cordero visited the site of the 9/11 memorial for the first time Saturday ahead of visiting the museum on its reopening day.
“It feels serene, like a peaceful place. Calm but at the same time sad,” she said.
She placed roses on the names of those who perished, doing so for her mother-in-law, who lost her niece.
“She’s ill and she is not able to come from so far, so I came on her behalf,” Cordero said.
Ed Gardella with the Hampden, Maine, Fire Department also took the emotional journey into the museum.
“I’m here to pay my respects to the 343 firefighters that perished,” he said. “The emotions are still raw.”
A man named Aaron visiting from Idaho wasn’t in New York on 9/11 but remembers watching terror unfold on TV, standing beside a stranger whose father was inside.
“When the first tower crashed, she dropped to her knees and started sobbing,” he said.
Aaron was first in line for the museum’s reopening Saturday.
“With everything that’s going on right now, I urge everyone to come down and experience the museum,” he said.
“You’re with fewer people and in some respects, the majesty of the place is intensified when you’re there with a limited number of people. I would say this is the time to come,” said Alice Greenwald, president and CEO of the museum.
Joan McGowen, a California native who lost co-workers on Sept. 11, says in the time that followed, she gained new respect for the place she now calls home.
“New York shows what unity really is, I know that. The hardship, the pain. New Yorkers are tough,” she said.
The museum at the World Trade Center site first reopened to family members only on Friday, the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attack that destroyed the Twin Towers, before welcoming the general public on Saturday.
Hours at the museum, where artifacts from the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks are displayed, will be restricted to five days a week, down from seven before the pandemic. The museum will now be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The memorial plaza with its twin pools where the towers stood is open seven days a week. The plaza is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and from noon to 7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday.
The Brooklyn Museum, where an exhibit dedicated to the legendary nightclub Studio 54 was about to open when the virus hit, also reopened on Saturday for the first time since the coronavirus shutdown.
Other New York City museums that have reopened with capacity limits and other COVID-19 restrictions include the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History.
You can get the latest news, sports and weather on our brand new CBS New York app. Download here.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)