2021 Annual Report

This past September, people from around the globe joined us to observe and commemorate the 20th anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001, a day that changed our world forever. The 9/11 Memorial & Museum once again led the nation in honoring the nearly 3,000 people who were killed on that unforgettable day as we recommitted never to forget.

The events of 9/11 and the days that followed remind us that, in the face of unfathomable devastation and loss, our ability to come together with compassion and our capacity for resilience can see us through the most unimaginable challenges. In 2021, our mission of commemoration, education, and inspiration was deepened with a new national awareness and fundraising campaign to preserve the legacy of 9/11 for a new generation, robust and record-breaking annual educational programming that reached new audiences, an impactful downloadable educational exhibition, and a world-class commemoration ceremony. 

The lower Manhattan skyline at night, including Brooklyn Bridge, with commemorative tribute in light visible across the river

Tribute in Light: September 11, 2021

Photo: Jin S. Lee

In this milestone anniversary year, we launched The Never Forget Fund, which raised over $4.8 million in 2021 and continues to raise awareness of the organization’s mission and attract essential resources. We welcomed more than one million participants to our annual Anniversary in the Schools program, from every U.S. state, six U.S. territories, and 48 countries — more attendees than all previous years combined. Nearly 1.5 million people at libraries, schools, and community centers around the country and the world experienced our downloadable, educational special exhibition, September 11, 2001: The Day That Changed the World. And, approximately 8,500 family members and their guests attended our 20th anniversary commemoration of September 11, 2001, with nearly 200 family members participating in the annual reading of the names.  

Over the course of the year, our Collections team acquired more than 400 items, bringing collection holdings to more than 73,500. Additionally, our professional and public programs reached nearly 6,000 people, including both virtual and on-site offerings. Not to mention, this year we were once again ranked as the #1 museum in New York City and #1 museum in the United States by TripAdvisor.com, and achieved accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums, the highest national recognition afforded to the nation’s museums. 

We are especially grateful for the generous support of our donors and members for sustaining the 9/11 Memorial & Museum as we continue to commemorate, educate, and inspire during these challenging times. On behalf of the entire organization, our Chairman Michael R. Bloomberg, and our President & CEO Alice M. Greenwald, we thank you for your continued support. 

Memorial & Museum Leadership

The illuminated reflecting pools, with the lower Manhattan skyline in the background

Our Mission

Detail of blue tiles in different shades, from the Spencer Finch wall at the Museum

Despite our shared grief in the aftermath of 9/11, hope, resilience, and unity lifted us up as a nation. Twenty years later, these lessons are more relevant than ever. 

Today, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum stands as a beacon of healing and renewal — a physical embodiment of the compassion we showed to one another, the resolve we demonstrated to the world, and how, in the face of unfathomable loss, we rose as one. During this 20th anniversary year, we shared the history and lessons learned with a new generation, taught them about the ongoing repercussions of the 9/11 attacks, and inspired the world with memories of our fortitude, strength, and resilience. 

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum bears solemn witness to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and February 26, 1993. Respecting this site made sacred through loss, the Memorial & Museum remembers and honors the nearly 3,000 victims of these attacks and all those who risked their lives to save others. It further recognizes the thousands who survived and all who manifested extraordinary compassion and leadership in the wake of the attacks. Demonstrating the consequences of terrorism on individual lives and its impact on communities at the local, national, and international levels, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum attests to the triumph of human dignity over human depravity and affirms an unwavering commitment to the fundamental value of human life. 

May the lives remembered, the deeds recognized, and the spirit reawakened be eternal beacons, which reaffirm respect for life, strengthen our resolve to preserve freedom, and inspire an end to hatred, ignorance, and intolerance. 

The 20th Anniversary Commemoration

Top left: a child  makes an imprint of a name on the Memorial. Top right: a man rests his head on the Memorial, with an American flag to his left. Bottom left: Back view of a couple looking at the Memorial, with the Oculus in the background. Bottom right: A uniformed police officer looks solemnly into the distance.

Each year on the anniversary of 9/11, the families of victims gather for a ceremony on the 9/11 Memorial plaza to read aloud the names of the 2,983 men, women, and children killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks and February 26, 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Six moments of silence mark the times when each of the World Trade Center towers was struck, when each tower fell, and the times corresponding to the attack at the Pentagon, and the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in Pennsylvania. 

This year, 8,500 family members and their guests attended the 20th anniversary ceremony, and nearly 200 family members participated in the reading of the names, representing victims of the 2001 and 1993 attacks.  

More readers were under the age of 18 than ever before, representing the shared commitment of family members and the institution to engage future generations about 9/11.   

More than 62,000 people visited the Memorial throughout the day on this year’s milestone anniversary.  


Ahead of the 20th anniversary of the attacks, we launched The Never Forget Fund to help ensure that the tens of millions of people born since 9/11 understand the day that changed our world forever. This evergreen fundraising platform supports the 9/11 Memorial & Museum’s educational programs and preserves its significance as a sacred place of remembrance, reflection, and learning. 

By the numbers:

  • $4.8M+ raised in 2021
  • 6,500+ gifts
  • Average donation $105
  • 52% of contributors were first-time donors
  • 64% of donations came from outside of New York City and the tri-state area
  • 18,000+ new email addresses acquired
  • 8,000 commemorative Never Forget tickets sold

Effort bolstered by:





More than one million individuals from around the world participated in our signature commemorative educational program, equaling our combined numbers from the previous five years. Participants learned about 9/11 through personal stories from victims’ family members Cait Leavey, Brielle Saracini, and John Spade, first responders from the FDNY and PAPD, and a student on 9/11, and recognized the importance of commemoration during this 35-minute program. 

The 2021 Anniversary in the Schools webinar — made possible in partnership with the New York Life Foundation — can be viewed here

By the numbers:

  • 1M+ students and teachers participated in this year’s Anniversary in the Schools webinar 
  • Attendees including students, teachers libraries, organizations, and unaffiliated individuals came from all 50 states, six territories, and 48 different countries. 



We once again produced the annual commemorative public art installation “Tribute in Light,” visible from dusk to dawn on the night of September 11. First presented six months after 9/11 and then every year thereafter, it has become an iconic symbol that both honors those killed and celebrates the unbreakable spirit of New York. This year, there was a wonderful feature on the installation in Esquire.

The presentation of this year’s “Tribute in Light” was made possible by the generous support of the Bill & Linda Haugland Family Foundation and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

“Tribute in Light” was conceived by several artists and designers who were then brought together under the auspices of the Municipal Art Society and Creative Time: John Bennett, Gustavo Bonevardi, Richard Nash Gould, Julian LaVerdiere, and Paul Myoda, with lighting consultant Paul Marantz. “Tribute in Light” is produced by Michael Ahern Production Services.


As an extension of “Tribute in Light,” we partnered this year with NYC & Company to invite buildings and landmarks throughout the city and beyond to light up their facades and rooftops in "Memorial blue.” “Tribute in Lights” is a unique but simple gesture of collective remembrance, illustrating that it is in darkness we shine brightest. Iconic participants from the list of more than 50 include One World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, Bloomberg L.P., Lincoln Center, the New-York Historical Society, City Hall, Bloomingdale's, New York Hall of Science, Niagara Falls, the Goethals Bridge, the Bayonne Bridge, JFK Air Traffic Control Tower, the Bronx Terminal Market, and the Times Square Ball.  

In the News

White text against black background, reading "Jules, this is Brian. Listen, I'm on an airplane that's been hijacked. If things don't go well, and it's not looking good, I just want you to know I absolutely love you." Multicolor NBC peacock logo in lower right corner.

This year, our communications team facilitated more than 200 interviews with 9/11 Memorial & Museum spokespeople, inserting our voice into hundreds of stories that were broadcast from major TV and radio stations across the country and around the world, reaching millions. 


2021 in Snapshots

Fall foliage on the Plaza

2021 was marked by countless challenges. But through the strength of the 9/11 community, it was also a year defined by milestones and hopeful moments that brightened the darker days.  

On February 26, we commemorated the 28th anniversary of the first attack on the World Trade Center and honored the six victims and thousands injured. The ceremony included an honor guard and moment of silence, along with a reading of the victims' names. 

On April 25, more than 1,300 individuals participated virtually from across the country and around the world in our Nationwide Run/Walk, presented by RXR. Together we achieved our goal of amassing 20,000 collective miles to remember all those killed 20 years ago and to honor the heroes who put their own lives at risk to save others. Thank you to all our participants for running/walking with us and to our event sponsors for your support. Please join us again in person on Sunday, April 24, 2022! 

Each year on May 30, we honor the courage and sacrifice of all 9/11 rescue, recovery, and relief workers, as well as survivors and members of the lower Manhattan community, by marking the anniversary of the formal end of the historic recovery efforts at Ground Zero with a commemorative ceremony. This year, we were able once again to gather in-person on the Memorial Glade to observe the 19th anniversary of the May 30, 2002 closing ceremony. 

The May 30, 2002 Commemoration is made possible in part by support from Joel S. Marcus/Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc., and CVS Health Foundation.


This year, we received the Director’s Community Leadership Award from the FBI's New York Office, recognizing our "extraordinary contributions to education and the prevention of violence in our communities.” 

During the 76th United Nations General Assembly, we hosted more than 300 heads of states, ministers, and delegation members from 120+ member states and international organizations at the Memorial for a formal ceremony paying tribute to the victims of 9/11 and all global terrorism.


The cast of the hit Broadway musical Come From Away joined our President & CEO Alice M. Greenwald for the 20th New Yorkers for Parks (NY4P) Daffodil Project Community Planting. A living memorial for victims of 9/11, the Daffodil Project is the largest volunteer effort in NYC. Since 2001, NY4P has planted over eight million daffodil bulbs in remembrance of the victims of the September 11 attacks as a symbol of rebirth and resilience embodied by New Yorkers.  


We welcomed Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, for a special visit to the Memorial & Museum this year. Our President & CEO Alice M. Greenwald, along with Bloomberg Philanthropies’ CEO Patti Harris, joined them as they paid their respects by laying a wreath at the Survivor Tree and then toured the Memorial Museum. 


Each year in honor of Veterans Day, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum hosts a week-long Salute to Service recognizing veterans and active members of the military, as well as the families and communities that support them. In 2021, 882 veterans and active and retired military members participated in our events and tributes.  


To show our heartfelt gratitude for our veterans and mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11, members of our staff helped carry the Ground Zero Volunteers Flag in the New York City Veterans Day Parade. This flag replaced the original American flag that was raised over Ground Zero.  

Museum Recognition

Two logos: the American Alliance of Museums (left) and Trip Advisor Traveler's Choice.

The American Alliance of Museums

We achieved accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition afforded to the nation’s museums. 

“The Alliance’s recognition of the Memorial & Museum is welcome news that helps underscore its vital mission – and the great work that so many people have done to ensure the institution is managed according to the highest standards,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, Chairman of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.

  • AAM accreditation brings national recognition to a museum for its commitment to excellence, accountability, high professional standards, and continued institutional improvement.
  • Of the nation’s estimated 33,000 museums, only a little more than 1,000 are currently accredited.
  • The National September 11 Memorial & Museum is one of 66 museums accredited in New York.

Trip Advisor Ratings

This year, the 9/11 Memorial Museum celebrated its seventh year of operation and has maintained its position, according to TripAdvisor.com ratings, as: 

  • The #1 Museum in NYC
  • The #2 Thing to Do in NYC
  • The #1 Museum in the United States

Schools, Teachers, Youth

Back view of an adult holding a child on her hips looking at names on the Memorial

Throughout 2021 we adjusted our educational programming to fit these uncertain times. Our Education team was able to continue imparting the story of the 9/11 attacks, their repercussions, and the history of the site without interruption. 

In our second year of operating virtual programming, more than 4,000 students participated in our virtual school programs, representing 30 states and three countries

Our Education team offered free virtual tours of the Museum for more than 3,000 local New York City students who started school the week after the 9/11 anniversary.


in our professional development opportunities, educators discovered how to integrate the 9/11 Memorial Museum’s collection and inquiry-based teaching strategies into their classrooms

The number of teachers who availed themselves of our PD opportunities (excluding participant "special events") marked a 


Thousands of educators from almost every state participated in special teacher PD events and partnerships, including a panel hosted by Scholastic on their major platforms and a special screening of the 2021 Anniversary in the School's webinar as part of this year's American Federation of Teachers Share My Lesson TEACH conference. 



Virtual workshops also allowed us to reach an unprecedented number of educators in foreign countries including Hungary, Romania, Macedonia, China, Italy, India, Lebanon, Mexico, Ukraine, Australia, Canada, and Singapore.


Public & Professional Programs

Exterior of the Museum, with trees and American flag in frame


Presented digitally across the globe, the Museum hosted thought leaders, experts, authors, artists, and performers in dynamic public programs to help further conversations about the history of 9/11 and its continued impact.

2021 stats:

  • 14 digital public programs hosted 
  • Nearly 3,000 total viewers 
  • This year, the Museum hosted notable individuals such as former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Leon Panetta, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Academy Award nominee Michael Keaton, and journalists Rehema Ellis and Peter Bergen.

Through the fourth annual 9/11 Memorial & Museum Summit on Security, presented by Fiserv, public programs in 2021 were made possible by Bloomberg, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, IronNet, Marsh McLennan, Trustee Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., Greater New York Hospital Association, Montefiore Medicine, and Morgan Stanley.

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum offers a robust slate of tailored programming for law enforcement, intelligence, military, and first response agencies. Our programs speak directly to the histories and missions of these organizations, many of which were established in response to, or reshaped as a direct result of, the 9/11 attacks.

2021 stats:

  • 30 professional programs delivered 
  • Nearly 3,000 program participants reached 
  • Over the course of the last year, we expanded our virtual professional programming and also welcomed agencies back on site for events. We conducted five virtual programs for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Academy, reaching more than 1,000 agents and analysts.
  • The Professional Programs team also deepened existing relationships with a variety of agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration, and piloted programming for new sectors, offering an inaugural virtual program for more than 300 Google NYC employees.


A damaged fire truck displayed in the Museum

Over 400 new items were acquired in 2021, bringing the 9/11 Memorial & Museum’s total collection to more than 73,500 items. These include:



In recognition of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, artist Tobi Kahn created a work of art consisting of two memorial lights, cast in bronze, to commemorate all who were killed at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Referenced as YZKAR, the paired works were inspired by his receipt of two remnant pieces of architectural steel recovered at Ground Zero. Gift of the Brewer Foundation.


Diptych painting created by Andra Samelson titled Kakrak and Shahmama. The diptych is created with acrylic and ink on papers mounted on canvas. The paintings each depict a tall standing Buddha rendered over repeated images of the world’s two tallest standing statues of Buddha destroyed on March 11, 2001, in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. When the diptych is displayed, the two panels represent the Twin Towers. Gift of Lawrence Shainberg.


Blue silk suit coat and dress worn by 9/11 survivor Micheala Ferrigine as she walked uptown and made her way home to New Jersey. Ferrigine wrote about her experience in vivid detail in The Blue Suit: A 9/11 Memoir. Gift of Michaela DiBernardo Ferrigine and family.


Prayer bench belonging to Father Mychal F. Judge. Prior to his 2001 death, Father Judge’s twin sister Dympna maintained a guest room for her brother at her Maryland residence. There, he kept a prayer bench for use on his frequent visits to her home. Dympna kept the bench for many years after Judge’s death but eventually gave it to the Sisters of the Episcopal Carmel of Saint Teresa in Rising Sun, Maryland. There, the prayer bench was given a special place in the monastery’s chapel and was used and venerated by the sisters for the next several years. The Sisters then donated the bench to the Museum on Easter Sunday 2021. Gift of Episcopal Carmel of Maryland, Inc.

Special Exhibitions

Skyline of lower Manhattan as seen from Brooklyn. Bright blue sky, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Twin Towers are visible.


September 11, 2001: The Day That Changed the World is a downloadable educational exhibition that presents the history of 9/11, its origins, and its ongoing implications. It explores the consequences of terrorism on individual lives and communities at the local, national, and international levels, while encouraging critical thinking about the legacies of 9/11.

  • Librarians and educators who registered for the poster exhibition received access to recorded training sessions, which included details on how to print and mount the posters and highlighted the Museum's online educational resources to supplement the exhibition, as well as promotional materials. 
  • Nearly 4,000 libraries, schools, and community centers registered for the poster exhibition
  • Nearly 1.5M were estimated to have experienced the exhibition
  • Registrants represented all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico, and 39 foreign countries

This poster exhibition has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. 


This year, the HISTORY Channel marked the 20th anniversary of 9/11 with a series of documentary films exploring the attacks and their aftermath. 

  • The first documentary, Revealed: The Hunt for Bin Laden, premiered on May 2, the 10th anniversary of the raid on bin Laden’s hideout. This documentary draws on interviews and stories told in the Museum’s special exhibition of the same name to tell a sweeping tale, linking policy, intelligence, and military decision-making as they converged on a mysterious compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.  
  • View the trailer for Revealed: The Hunt for Bin Laden, co-produced for the HISTORY Channel by the 9/11 Memorial & Museum and Northern Light Productions. Clifford Chanin, our Executive Vice President and Deputy Director for Museum Programs, was an executive producer on the documentary.

Connecting With the Community

Probationary officers in blue line the Memorial Plaza.

Our community of supporters plays a crucial role in helping us fulfill our mission and bring skill sets that are as diverse as New York City itself. We've been fortunate to work with more than 1,700 volunteers to date and nearly 150 active volunteers in 2021

Each year, we host a diverse range of community groups and organizations, frequently welcoming first responder ceremonies on the Memorial plaza. In 2021, more than 3,000 probationary FDNY firefighters, EMTs, and NYPD recruits participated in these ceremonies. 


Bill Spade (left) is a retired FDNY firefighter who responded to the World Trade Center on 9/11 and one of our earliest volunteer docents. He was honored for his education work with our Memorial & Museum with the Daily Point of Light Award from the Points of Light organization, founded by President George H.W. Bush to promote volunteerism nationally. The award is to celebrate the power of individuals to lead and lend support to causes they care about.  You can read about his nomination and inspirational story here.


The Survivor Tree stands on the Memorial plaza as a living symbol of resilience, survival, and renewal. Each year, seedlings from the tree are given to different countries, communities, or organizations that have experienced terrorism, natural disasters, extreme violence, or a health crisis. Since September 2013, a total of 32 countries, communities, and organizations have accepted seedlings. Pictured above: members of our Visionary Network volunteer at Staten Island's Postcards Memorial, planting a Survivor Tree seedling. 

2021 Seedling Recipients include:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO), for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The Norwegian communities of Oslo and Utøya, where a total of 77 people were killed by a gunman on July 22, 2011
  • Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, where a 17-year-old high school student shot and killed eight students and two teachers and wounded 13 others on May 18, 2018.

Sacrifice & Survival

A triptych shows damaged steel from the Twin Towers (left); a firefighter's helmet amid rubble (center); and a wrist with a commemorative tattoo that says "Survivor"

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum Registries are dynamic databases tracking rescue and recovery workers, witnesses and survivors, and 9/11 memorials around the world in a living historical record. 

In 2021, we added more than 400 Rescue & Recovery Worker profiles, bringing our total to nearly 17,000. 

We also added nearly 100 Witness & Survivor profiles, with nearly 1,500 to date. 

Financial & Legal Information

View financial and legal information including our Conflict of Interest policy; Whistleblower policy; 501c3 Letter; Application for Recognition of Exemption; and 2020 annual report.

Thank You

Thank you to all of our visitors and donors. Because of your support, we can deliver our essential mission with an unwavering sense of purpose despite the financial challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.