9/11 museum officials defend $24 charge

Artist rendering provided by the National September 11 Artist rendering provided by the National September 11 Memorial & Memorial shows the proposed entrance pavilion. Photo Credit: AP

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Officials at the 9/11 museum stood firm on their $24 admission charge Friday, saying the fee will keep the "world- class museum" that showcases "the best of humanity in the worst of times" open and financially secure.

"I don't think it is too much," Joe Daniels, president of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, said Friday at a news conference at 7 World Trade Center.

At that event museum director Alice Greenwald gave a progress report on the installation of exhibits and an update on construction. The museum is scheduled to open in mid-May, she said.

The cost to build the memorial and museum is $700 million, which was paid with private donations and government grants.

Daniels said the admission charge will cover the museum's daily costs, including salaries. He said the facility's budget for 2014 is $63 million.

Family of 9/11 victims, first responders and recovery workers will not be charged, he said. "This museum is for them to see their own history." The museum also will be free Tuesdays from 5 to 8 p.m.

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Rosemary Cain of Massapequa, whose son, FDNY firefighter George Cain, was killed when responding to the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center attacks, said charging $24 is "disrespectful to the dead."

"Poor and middle-class families won't be able to afford" $24, she said. The museum and memorial has turned into a "multimillion-dollar fiasco" that is paying inflated salaries to its president and director, she said.

"This is taking advantage of the well-intentioned people who go to lower Manhattan to pay their respects," Cain said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, at a City Hall news conference Friday, said the museum should lower its price. "I certainly hope that the museum -- particularly if we can get that federal help in -- will get that admission down as much as possible."

Daniels said the museum has applied for additional federal funding. If the museum receives federal assistance, officials will "absolutely" consider offering discounts, he said.

Cain and some other 9/11 families are opposed to a plan to entomb at the museum the unidentified remains of people killed in the attacks. They are asking elected officials to support a plan to have the National Park Service take over the memorial and museum.

However, Charles Wolf of Manhattan, whose wife, Katherine, died in the north tower, said charging $24 will ensure the museum's future. "The ticket price is based on a financial plan that is not receiving a subsidy or an endowment."

With Emily Ngo

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the museum would entomb the identified remains of people killed in the 9/11 attacks.

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