The 9/11 Museum Store is insensitive


Opinion writer William Flannery thinks the gift shop at the 9/11 Memorial Museum is capitalistic and insensitive to the tragedy it relates to. Credit: Rachel Chang / The Foothill Dragon Press.

William Flannery

Sunday, September 11 marks the fifteen year anniversary of the tragic hijacking of four airlines that resulted in attacks on American soil, including the destruction of the World Trade Center.

In 2011 the 9/11 Memorial Museum was opened to the public, commemorating the history of the World Trade Center. The museum contains many exhibitions and displays, however there is a section that seems to be out of place: a store.

The museum store sells a variety of products that are in regard to the attack. While these products are compassionate towards that tragic day and to those who purchase them, the idea of a gift shop for such an infamous event is insensitive, especially to victims of the attacks.

A store within a museum is generally placed to provide memorabilia of the visit, thus it can be argued that it seems appropriate for a day we should never forget.

Though would it be sensitive for a person to buy a $15 handbag or a pair of $55 earrings to remember an event that either could have been or was the death of a loved one? Both of these tokens display reverences to the World Trade Center, but the environment that they are found in makes their existence a questionable decision.

It’s not necessary to buy an object to commemorate the attacks, nor to provide evidence of your visit, but no one should be denied the ability to obtain something if they want to.

The primary issue of the gift shop is the style these products are presented in. Imagine entering an elaborate display of apparel, designed to grab your attention with a myriad of design choices, for the tragedy where 2,726 people lost their lives. To reiterate, these products are all in good favor, yet they are exhibited in the manner of capitalizing on your interest in style.

It could be argued that the museum must sell these products to fund the establishment, as well as future products, yet that does not excuse the unsympathetic method of a gift shop. There are many alternative methods for gaining money for the institution, including donation, as stated on the store’s website.

Donations are an excellent way to raise money for the museum as it requires the donor to provide based solely on personal motivation. Those who donate are doing so willingly, helping to ensure the solidification of the memory of the devastating attacks, rather than an ostentatious shop.

Selling these products on a smaller scale, through kiosks, would provide more sympathy without entirely sacrificing the effect of an ornate display; or focusing solely on online retail so that the collection of products are presented outside of the memorial.

It is the grandness of the museum store that gives the symbol of profit over sympathy, stating that the memorabilia in this store is designed for funding, not for remembrance.

Ultimately, it is the connotation of a museum store that is most inconsiderate to victims of the attacks. A store of this kind simply does not belong in a place created to honor the impact left on this country fifteen years ago. There shouldn’t be a gleaming end-of-the-tour experience where you search for the perfect gift.

The 9/11 Memorial Museum was created in reverence to the World Trade Center, to the loss of lives and the impact on our nation, and to ensure we never forget what occurred fifteen years ago. A museum store is an unnecessary part of this exhibition, overshadowing your purpose for visiting in a decorated showcase.

Visitors should urge themselves not to visit the store and find alternative ways of retrieving a memento. If this cannot be achieved, and you must visit the gift shop, then allow the museum to know of the discomfort brought through letters or petitions. If you wish to provide money to the museum, donate or purchase online.

The museum store is a symbol of profit, not respect. The implementation of this store will only be seen as an insensitive gesture to a time of sorrow in American history.

What do you think?