Both the New York Daily News and the New York Post reported on Wednesday about a brief cocktail reception held Tuesday evening at the 9/11 Museum, which opened the following day. Relatives of those killed in the attacks are, understandably, not too happy about that.
According to the Daily News, “Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Condé Nast honchos were among those who nibbled crab cakes and shrimp cocktail hors d’oeuvres at the black tie affair, billed as a dedication ceremony, according to sources.”
Those sources also said that the affair was “festive” and that guests were “drinking, eating and laughing.”
Accounts and interpretations of the event’s precise tenor certainly differ, with relatives of victims declaring it disrespectful and museum officials portraying it as a low-key ‘thank you’ for the donors who helped make the museum happen.
But did the reception need to take place inside the museum? Consider these two paragraphs from the Post—a quote from museum spokesman Michael Frazier and the subsequent event detail:
“While closed for these preparations, there was a very small and short gathering for donors. Those donors include Condé Nast, which is sponsoring [Wednesday’s] free admission. The small gathering was done respectfully and in recognition of our supporters, who helped to build this important institution.”
The museum’s cocktail hour took place near the “remains repository,” where 8,000 unidentified body parts are being stored.
Add to that reports that first responders who came to see the museum were turned away—“Another group of firefighters was asked to leave early and left the site in tears”—in order to prepare for the reception, and an unflattering picture appears.
There are obviously two sides to this story—the need to be respectful to victims, as well as the donor glad-handing sausage-making that projects like such a museum necessitate. But in the future, if there’s an event that could in any way be seen as a “party,” maybe don’t hold it in the same facility that houses the unidentified remains of more than 1,000 people.
(On a related note, while there has been much written about the 9/11 Museum surrounding its opening this week, the only truly essential piece of writing on it so far is this piece by Steve Kandell, whose sister was killed in the attacks.)