NEW YORK (AP) — After years of delays due to funding disputes, engineering challenges and a nearly disastrous flood, a museum dedicated to victims of the 9/11 terror attacks will open to the public in mid-May in a giant cavern beneath the World Trade Center site — with a world-class admissions price of $24.
National 9/11 Memorial and Museum President Joe Daniels said Friday that tickets would go on sale for the museum in March for the spring opening.
That $24 price is in line with other major tourist attractions in New York City. It costs $18 to take a ferry to the Statue of Liberty, $25 to see the Museum of Modern Art and $27 to visit the observation deck of the Empire State Building.
But the fee drew protests from critics, including some relatives of 9/11 victims, who said the high price would keep average Americans out. Unlike many other big museums in the city, there won't be the option of paying less than the "suggested donation."
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was among those who expressed displeasure.
"I'd like to see them do better," he told reporters Friday. But he also said the best way to lower the admissions charge would be for the federal government to cover a portion of the museum's operating expenses.
"I think we deserve substantial federal funding at this museum," de Blasio said. "What could be a more nationally important site than this? It's a national tragedy and people come from all over the country, all over the world, to see it."
Under the pricing plan approved by the foundation's board, there will be no admission charge for relatives of 9/11 victims or for many thousands of construction workers, police officers, firefighters, and others who assisted in the rescue and cleanup operation at ground zero. Children under age 5 and under will also get in free. Admission will also be free for everyone between the hours of 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Tuesdays.
There will continue to be no charge to enter the World Trade Center memorial plaza, which is already open. About 5.3 million people visited the plaza this year to see the two huge fountains that sit in the original footprints of the twin towers.