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The National September 11 Memorial and Museum is finally open to the public, but that doesn’t mean the controversy around it will be stopping any time soon. In fact, a new controversy was sparked by an opening night, black-tie event Tuesday night.
Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and several Conde Nast publishing executives attended the event, which was only open to those who received invitations. According to the New York Daily News, the museum even closed early, meaning that first-responders and victims’ families were turned away. The museum had been opened for a week for them exclusively.
Museum spokesman Michael Frazier told the Daily News that the event was a “small gathering” for donors and insisted that it was not a celebratory event.
“This small gathering was done respectfully and in recognition of our supporters who helped to build the memorial and museum,” Frazier explained. “Among the attendees were 9/11 family members.”
That explanation wasn’t enough for some, especially after an anonymous museum employee told the Daily News that it was a festive party, with some attendees even laughing.
The museum was opened Wednesday with another ceremony that included the unfurling of the huge National 9/11 Flag, notes NBC New York. It was found tattered shortly after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 and was later put back together by people affected by other disasters.
Tickets for the museum cost $24 for adults and $15 for children. Victims’ family members are allowed to visit the museum for free at all times.