Message from the President & CEO
2020 has been a year like no other. We began the year on a strong footing that was sustained through the better part of the first quarter, as we exceeded projections on attendance and earned revenue and continued to offer robust educational programming. And, then came COVID-19, the worst global, public health crisis in a century.
Like so many other cultural organizations, we faced the unimaginable reality of having to close our doors in mid-March. Through six months of closure, we navigated uncharted waters, learning how to work remotely and convert our on-site programming to virtual formats, all the while facing unprecedented financial challenges as our primary source of operating income – revenue from Museum attendance – collapsed entirely.
Despite it all, we remained committed to our mission. The generosity and unwavering support of our members and donors made this possible.
Thanks to the exceptional leadership of our Chairman, the compassionate guidance of our Board of Trustees, and a professional staff whose dedication and creativity are unequalled, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum weathered these challenges even as we affirmed our solidarity with those who have so tragically lost friends and family or suffered severe financial setbacks as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.
In confronting the shock and grief of the present moment, and as we witnessed the outpouring of gratitude and encouragement for those on the front lines of response to the current crisis, we recognized common ground with the history we commemorate, document and teach at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. The days after 9/11 were certainly filled with shock and grief, but also with demonstrations of solidarity and compassion, empathy, service, and resilience. Then, as now, we cheered on those who – selflessly and courageously – rushed to help, whether to rescue, recover, or rebuild.
We learned in the wake of the worst terrorist attack in our nation’s history that renewal was possible, but we could not do it alone. As one of the operating engineers at Ground Zero told his fellow recovery workers, “We came in as individuals. And we’ll walk out together.” Today, these words are displayed in the Museum, summing up our aspiration for our visitors’ experience as much as the truth of the recovery effort.
This experience of coming together is one we all desperately need right now. It’s a lesson the 9/11 Memorial & Museum is committed to teaching, through stories of resilience, hope and renewal, and by providing a sacred space for remembrance and reflection.
Our city and country have endured tremendous heartbreak this past year, and as we approach the 20th anniversary of 9/11, I am hopeful that our nation can find strength and reassurance in the reminders this milestone anniversary provides of our capacity for compassion and tenacity regardless of the circumstances.
With gratitude, we were able to reopen the Memorial on July 4th and the Museum on September 11th. While we continue to operate under financial strain, it is a great privilege to welcome back visitors who can come together safely for a shared experience.
For those still unable to visit in person, we are continuing to offer and expand our virtual programming. In addition to online public programs, our live, virtual tours of the Memorial and the Museum provide an easily accessed, interactive experience for individuals, families, and groups. We’ve also launched virtual field trips for students in grades 3-12 and online professional development programs for educators. And, our new “Stories of Hope” video series, available on Instagram TV, captures inspirational stories of responses in the aftermath of 9/11 that echo now as timely, relevant, and ennobling. Your generosity in this difficult moment can sustain our efforts.
The current health crisis reminds us that we are all in this together – and that by sticking together, there will be better times ahead. We do come in as individuals…and we will walk out together.
Alice M. Greenwald
President & CEO
National September 11 Memorial & Museum