9/11 Memorial & Museum | Time | A Guide

For anyone visiting New York City, you’ll want to pay a visit to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, which both pay tribute to those who lost their lives on this tragic day.

Memorial vs. Museum | Difference
9/11 Museum and Memorial
Outside view of the 9/11 Memorial: One of the two reflecting pools

There is a difference between the 9/11 Memorial and the museum.  The memorial is outside and free to visit, and then 70 feet underground, you’ll find the museum. While tickets are required for the museum, it’s well worth the admission cost with its touching tribute and fantastic exhibits on offer to visitors.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about visiting what has become one of the most popular attractions in New York. We have visited this place multiple times to provide you with the most helpful tips.  Don’t forget to read our 3 Must-Know Tips at the end of this article!

When Is the Best Time to Visit
9/11 Museum
Make sure to buy skip-the-line tickets in advance to avoid waiting times. Photo: 9/11 Memorial Museum – inside fountain by Edward Stojakovic, CC BY.

The best time of day to visit the 9/11 Museum is during the first two hours of the morning. Beat the crowds by booking the first tickets of the day online. Later on in the day, you’ll find that crowds pick up much more, especially around lunchtime and early afternoon.

Check availability here (you can still select options after pressing ‘book now’):

 

As of the time of writing (2022), the museum is open from Wednesday to Monday each week and therefore closed on Tuesday. The 9/11 Memorial is open to the public seven days a week.

Museum opening times:

  • 10 AM to 5 PM
  • Last admission: 3:30 PM

9/11 Memorial opening times:

  • 9 AM to 8 PM

Tip: Check out our Best-Time Guide for the Empire State Building (opens in a new tab) in New York and the Rockefeller Center (Top of the Rock). Both sites are must-visits when in NYC!

The slurry wall is a three-foot-thick concrete structure that surrounded the World Trade Center below ground. It was designed to keep the basement from being flooded by the Hudson River.

Monday afternoons offer free entry tickets from 3 pm, so this time is worth avoiding unless you want to take advantage of this great offer. Thursday and Friday evening is a good time to visit, as the museum is open until 7 pm, instead of the regular 5 pm closure time.

Going on an evening is also a beautiful time to enjoy walking around the monument with lower crowds, and the lighting creates a unique atmosphere around the site.

While it’s great visiting in these last two hours of the day, ensure you get to the museum early enough to enjoy everything it has to offer so you don’t have to rush around the exhibits. We always went early and it was a much better

9/11 Museum and Memorial
New York City, USA, 9/11 Memorial Museum by Pom’, CC BY-SA

Weekend Visits: As far as days to visit, naturally, you’ll want to avoid the weekends, which will attract more crowds than any tourist attraction in the city. If you do need to visit during the weekend, once again, ensure you are there for the opening time. The rest of the morning and afternoon is unlikely to see a drop in the crowd levels.

Book in Advance: To offer yourself the best experience, book your tickets in advance, which will minimize the waiting time upon your arrival. If you purchase your tickets in advance, you’ll just need to show up fifteen minutes before your allotted time, and you will be guaranteed entry. This is not the case if you just show up and wait in line. Buy your 9/11 Memorial & Museum Skip-the-Line Timed Entry ticket (via GetYourGuide) before you visit!

How Long Is the Wait Time

9/11 Museum

The wait time for the 9/11 Museum is generally between fifteen minutes and one hour. Holidays and weekends attract the most crowds, and expect wait times to stretch over an hour during these periods. By purchasing tickets in advance, you can minimize your wait time and guarantee your entry to the museum.

If you don’t have tickets, the best time to arrive at the attraction is first thing in the morning, where you can expect to wait about fifteen minutes before entering. If you arrive after lunch, anticipate waiting up to an hour to purchase your tickets and gain entry to the site.

Once, we waited about 45 minutes in line when we arrived in the early afternoon.

9/11 Museum
New York City, USA, 9/11 Memorial Museum by Pom’, CC BY-SA

Most of the visitors to the site line up between noon and 3 pm each day. During this time you’ll find the longest crowds to buy your tickets. When you arrive at the ticket counter, you’ll see a sign which details the times available for entry on the day.

If you have to buy tickets for a few hours later, you’ll have to wait around in the local area or a nearby coffee shop before you can enter the museum. However, in that case, you can visit the memorial first before heading down to the museum.

If you purchase tickets online in advance, you will reduce your waiting time and security check to about fifteen minutes. Tickets are available online for every thirty minutes of the day, and you’ll just need to arrive fifteen minutes before your allocated time to clear security and enter the museum.

How Much Time to Spend at the Museum
9/11 Museum
We usually spend about 2-3 hours there.

To fully explore the 9/11 museum and memorial, you’ll want to spend 2-3 hours at the site. This is enough time to enjoy all of the exhibits on offer and walk around the large memorial site. If you allocate less than two hours to your visit, you’ll find it to be a very rushed experience.

A visit to the 9/11 museum can be a very emotional experience, so you’ll want to allocate a good length of time to your visit to pay tribute to those whose lives were lost in this tragic event. There’s plenty to see between the memorial and the museum, so allocate a full morning or afternoon of your trip to the site.

How long at the Memorial and in the Museum: The memorial needs about thirty minutes to enjoy the site fully. However, some people choose to spend much longer here reflecting on the events of the day. The time spent in the museum varies depending on your museum touring style, with the shortest visit being about an hour and those who enjoy reading every exhibit taking closer to the three-hour mark.

Is the Museum Worth Visiting?

9/11 Museum
The destruction from 9/11 by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner, CC BY-SA

Without a doubt, the 9/11 Museum is well worth visiting while being in New York City. It’s a stunning tribute to this horrific incident, and the museum and memorial offer great insight into the lives lost on this day. No trip to New York is complete without a visit to the site, so ensure you add this into your next trip itinerary.

While some visitors opt to just see the memorial, we highly recommend adding the museum to your visit, as it offers you a much deeper insight into the events and the people affected by this day. We always visit both the museum and the 9/11 memorial.

The memorial is one of the most stunning tributes you will ever witness, with the sunken twin pools located on the Twin Towers’ foundation. The name of every single person killed in the attacks is inscribed in bronze, and it’s a fitting tribute to those whose lives were lost in this senseless attack. It’s a peaceful and moving site, and you’ll want to allocate a reasonable amount of time to the memorial.

Heading underground to the museum, you’ll learn more about the building’s function before the attack, the day of 9/11, and the aftermath of this event on the city. There are so many memorabilia pieces of the day hidden within the museum’s walls, and it helps to put a face to the names listed above in the memorial.

You’ll get the opportunity to learn more about the people closely affected by this day, and it reminds you of the adversity that can be overcome when we work together as humans and offer compassion to those around us. You’ll also enjoy learning more about Ground Zero’s rebirth and the projects undertaken in the area following the attacks.

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The Unidentified Victims in the 9/11 Museum
National September 11 Memorial & Museum by Travis Wise, CC (BY)

Are there bodies in the 9/11 museum? The unidentified victims at the 9/11 Memorial occupy a unique position in the museum. Although the human remains are not “on display” or approachable to visitors other than relatives and medical examiners, their presence is clearly indicated by a huge wall.

Reposed behind this wall are the remains of many who perished at the World Trade Center site on September 11, 2001

The victims’ physical presence is a part of the exhibit and the museum’s 9/11 story.

In May 2014, the long-unidentified remains of 1,115 victims were brought from the city medical examiner to Ground Zero in an early-morning ceremony. The remains were then put in a 70-foot-deep hole in the bedrock of the 9/11 Memorial Museum. The reaction of the victims’ families to the relocation was mixed, with some approving the decision and others criticizing the new location.

FDNY Lt. James McCaffrey (brother-in-law of a victim) stated that the remains deserve equal attention to the trees and pools at the Memorial. Also, he said that the ceremony was conducted early in the morning due to opposition to this transfer.

Are You Allowed to Take Pictures at the 9/11 Museum?
Photograph of the FDNY Memorial Wall. Paying honor to those who lost their lives on September 11.

At the 9/11 Memorial, visitors are permitted to take photographs for non-commercial use. Personal and non-commercial photography is allowed in the 9/11 Memorial Museum in all areas unless otherwise indicated.

Professional photography is not allowed in the museum without authorization. This means you are not allowed to take photos for advertising or similar purposes as well as using professional photo equipment.

 

3 Facts About 9/11 and Memorial Impressions

If you wonder about the purpose of the roses at the pool or other facts about 9/11, read on:

1. How Much Did 9/11 Victims Families Get?

The Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) received 7,408 claim submissions from 75 countries. In 5,560 of those cases, awards totaling more than $7 billion US Dollars were made.

2. What Was the Total Number of Deaths on 9 11?

On the September 11, 2001, attacks, 2,977 people were killed, 19 hijackers committed murder-suicide, and over 6,000 more were injured. There were 2,763 deaths (including attackers) in the World Trade Center and the surrounding region, 189 at the Pentagon, and 44 in Pennsylvania.

3. What Do the Red Roses Mean at the 9/11 Memorial?

The red and white roses serve as a reminder of the very personal loss of human life on September 11, as well as a unique opportunity to welcome visitors from all around the world to join us here in honoring your loved ones.

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3 Must-Know Tips before Visiting

9/11 Museum
The destruction from 9/11 by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner, CC BY-SA

Before your visit, here are a few top tips to help make the most of your time:

  1. Buy your tickets in advance: 9/11 Museum Tickets. This will save you plenty of time waiting in line when you arrive, and you’ll simply have to turn up fifteen minutes before your allocated time.
  2. The 9/11 Museum is not recommended for children under 10. While they are welcome to visit, it can be an incredibly confusing and difficult experience for them. There is a guide for kids on offer, but you will be the best one to decide if it’s appropriate for your young children to visit at their current age.
  3. Download the 9/11 audio guide app before your visit for either your Android device or iPhone. An audio guide is not included in your museum entry, but this will provide you with a more detailed guide and an immersive experience to use during your visit

 

Additional Tip: You can’t enter the site with a bag larger than 19 x 17 x 8 inches. Try to keep your bag size to the minimum for the day, which will make your touring experience more pleasant once inside.

The 9/11 Memorial and Museum is one of the top attractions to visit during any New York trip. With prior planning and by purchasing your tickets in advance, you’ll enjoy a quick and easy admission process upon arrival. Make sure you factor in two to three hours into your plans to visit the site, which offers a touching tribute and insight into the events of this tragic day.

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