Budget crisis forcing 9/11 Museum to scale back plans for 20th anniversary

The 9/11 Museum is dropping plans for special exhibitions to mark the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks this fall, because of a massive budget crisis.

"I see the memorial as a cemetery. The names on those brass plates are akin to a headstone. Where the name appears, sorry, is where they fell." said Paul Remenschneider.

For Remenschneider, the pain of 9/11 is as though it happened yesterday. His uncle Christopher Wodenshek was killed in the terror attack.

"The feelings of emptiness. That void that it creates, created from those attacks, is still there," Remenschneider says.

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Remenschneider says he does not understand why there is a current controversy surrounding the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.

The pandemic created a budget crisis for the nonprofit that included massive layoffs and furloughs. As a result, the museum had to eliminate some additional exhibits planned for the 20th anniversary in September that included other tragedies like the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting in Florida in 2016,  and the role music played in helping Americans cope after 9/11.

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Anthoula Katsimatides lost her brother, John, at the World Trade Center.

"A fancy singer. A famous actor. A famous band is not going to make my life and my pain easier on September 11th.  I need to be connected to my brother and the other families," Katsimatides said.

Katsimatides is also a trustee with the 9/11 Museum. There are some 9/11 families who want the museum to address other issues including islamophobia and what they see as a rise in American nationalism. 

"In my opinion, that is not an issue that the 9/11 Memorial Museum should tackle. In my opinion, what is of utmost importance is to remember the people who died that day," Katsimatides said.

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As for the financial crisis now facing the museum because of the pandemic, the nonprofit says "We lost nearly 90% of our operating revenue, which was derived heavily from ticket sales… we had to make tough decisions."

Rosaleen Tallon DaRos says in the early stages of creating the museum, many families predicted it would eventually run into money problems. Her FDNY firefighter brother, Sean, was killed on 9/11.

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"The National Park Service really should be in charge of this site because you know in the future when we're all gone, the federal government will look after such a site," DaRos said.

This year's 20th anniversary will include the traditional moments of silence, the reading of the names by family members, and the tribute in light.