The 9/11 Memorial Museum opens to the public tomorrow after years of construction and battles over the museum’s contents.
Particularly controversial issues have been the museum’s gift shop and the private “reflection room,” a place for families of the roughly 8,000 unidentified people who lost their lives in the attack to view their remains.
Critics argue that the remains shouldn’t be housed in the museum, and take particular issue with the fact that they share the space with a gift shop. The museum’s staff has said the gift shop items were carefully selected and that the money raised there will fund operations of the museum and the free outdoor memorial.
Similar gift shops exist at other memorial museums, including several Holocaust museums and Pearl Harbor.
What should the protocol be for remembering the dead in a memorial museum? Is the museum’s gift shop inappropriate, or might it be appropriate if the human remains were housed elsewhere? How should the museum proceed?
Philip Tetlock, professor of psychology and management at University of Pennsylvania and the Wharton School of Business
Karen Remmler, Professor of German Studies and Gender Studies at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. Her research focuses on the politics of memory in the aftermath of atrocities