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300,000 visitors at 9-11 Museum and counting

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Officials at the 9-11 Museum state today that there have been over 300,000 visitors since it opened its doors in May 2014. These initial figures exceed initial estimates, adds The Staten island Advance today (June 25) from Associated Press wire reports. For more on this story visit http://wwww.silive.com.

Organizers of the museum see this as a positive benchmark for the future of the museum, which opened to controversial reports about high ticket prices and inappropriate merchandise sold in the museum gift shop. It seems; however, that vivid memories of the 9-11-2001 attacks make the museum controversial and a must-see for New Yorkers who remember that day as if it were yesterday. Museum organizers see it as a strong start for the ground zero museum, which had faced questions about its $24 ticket price. The attendance total has topped projections by about 5 percent since the institution opened to the public May 21 and to 9/11 survivors and victims' relatives six days earlier, President Joe Daniels said to AP.

Joe Lock and his family had visited the World Trade Center on a trip from Fort Wayne, Indiana, a month before the 2001 terror attacks. On returning to New York this month, "this was one of the first things we wanted to see," he said as they left the National September 11 Memorial Museum on Tuesday, adds the article.

"It lets you heal a little bit," said Lock, 56, a lab manager. "Built amid the former World Trade Center's footprints, the underground museum was designed as a more historical, immersive complement to the memorial plaza and waterfall pools above. The museum includes profiles of the nearly 3,000 victims, recordings of survivors telling their stories, and artifacts ranging from a giant trade center column to shoes shed as people fled the burning towers," adds the report.

Organizers have said they hope to draw 2.5 million visitors a year, and Daniels says they projected 1.5 million from its opening through the rest of 2014. The estimates vary month by month because of seasonal tourism patterns and the museum's newness, museum officials said.

"We feel great about the numbers," Daniels said by phone.

"Besides serving as a measure of interest, attendance is key to the museum's finances. Admissions are to cover much of the $63 million-a-year cost of running the museum and memorial (visiting the plaza is free); they don't get government operating money. But the fee has drawn criticism from some September 11 victims' relatives who see it as prohibitively steep, though some other victims' families say it's needed to keep the museum financially healthy," according to AP.

The museum has faced some flaps in its first weeks, including complaints about a gift shop where wares initially included a U.S.-map-shaped platter with heart symbols marking where the hijacked planes struck on 9/11. The piece is no longer sold there, and Daniels has pledged to seek more input on products from victims' relatives on the museum board.

While visitors converge on the museum from around the world, it has stirred mixed feelings among New Yorkers. Some are staying away: "It's too political for me," Brooklyn engineering student Ako Morie, 35, said Tuesday as he took a break in midtown Manhattan, added the report. But early data show more museumgoers are from New York state than any other, and New Jersey is third after California, Daniels said. For Pam Gregory, who lives on Staten Island, revisiting 9/11 at the museum Tuesday was "like reliving it again." "It's quite amazing — very sad, but necessary," she said to AP. "Absolutely necessary."

I too am involved with the museum, as a former 9-11 memorial volunteer and a current 9-11 volunteer docent trainee I feel that seeing the museum is a must-see for every Staten Islander this summer. Who of us here on Staten Island can forget that horrific day? Remember Tuesday evenings admission is free to the museum, so book early. Staten Islanders should make a visit to the museum part of their summer 2014 itinerary. To book a visit see http://www.911memorial.org.

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