-- Today marks the 13th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and it's the first 9/11 that New York's September 11 Memorial Museum has been opened. It has quickly become one of the city's top tourist attractions, although it's not without its controversy.
But if a visit to the museum is in a visitor's plans, what's the best way to see it? How much time does a person need to see it in its entirety? The collection includes 23,000 images, over 500 hours of video and 10,300 artifacts in a gallery that is over 110,000 square feet. NewYork.com is one of only two companies authorized to sell tickets to the museum, and has shared the following itineraries for visitors no matter how much time they have.
With an hour to spend at the museum, you should still skip the introductory video, and descend directly one floor below to the museum entrance. With an hour, you’ll have enough time to move through most of the museum. The space has a natural flow to it, so it’s worth taking the time to leisurely stroll through it. Do not miss the North and South Tower galleries, which offer a comprehensive look of the day, how it played out in each tower and the aftermath. The Memorial Exhibition is also an important stop, where photographs of all 2,977 people who lost their lives that day hang on the wall. An interactive feature allows you to search each photo and learn more about the victim. There’s also a room where you can listen to friends and family of the victims talk about their loved ones. Finally, be sure to watch Rebirth at Ground Zero, an immersive film that chronicles the rise of the new World Trade Center. It’s an uplifting experience in the midst of many emotional exhibits.
Note that you probably will not have time to check out the September 11, 2001 exhibit, which is separated from the rest of the museum. (If you do, you’ll have to move through it very quickly because it is large.) It isn’t a must-see exhibit if you are able to visit the rest of the museum.
You could easily spend a long afternoon at the Memorial Museum, but two hours is enough time to see everything and experience the entirety of the space, starting with the 15-minute introductory film. Once you descend into the actual museum space, take your time moving through it. Again, you can catch just about everything : the North and South Tower galleries, the Memorial exhibit and the Rebirth at Ground Zero film. You may find yourself moving quickly through the September 11, 2001 exhibit, but you should still have time to see most of the key displays. After exiting, you’ll land in the stunning Foundation Hall, presided over by the towering Last Colum. It’s a good place to sit and compose your thoughts.
Pace yourself, allowing time to simply process the museum, which can be an intense, moving experience. While two hours allows you to view the majority of the exhibits, the full museum is a lot to take in. Don’t get caught up in seeing everything. In a space so emotionally charged, it’s important to check in with yourself and your feelings. There’s simply no right way to do it. This is a museum that everyone will experience and respond to in a wholly personal way.