The 9/11 Memorial Museum has been called “crass and insensitive” by victims’ families for selling souvenirs including hoodies emblazoned with pictures of the Twin Towers and fire department dog vests.
A dash through the gift shop is the inevitable ending of most museum visits but the merchandise on offer at the already controversial memorial is too much for some to stomach.
After paying up to $24.00 (£14.30) for entry, visitors can part with $39 (£23) for a hoodie with a picture of the towers and the slogan “in darkness we shine brightest”.
Souvenir police cars and fire department trucks can be bought and there are commemorative bracelets, mugs, mouse mats, key rings and fridge magnets.
A leaf ornament moulded from trees at the memorial is said to change colour around the anniversary of the tragedy.
The National September 11 Memorial Museum
The shop is above a repository of about 8,000 unidentified body parts of those who died in the September 11 attacks in 2001.
Families of several victims have already objected to the whole concept of a commercial museum and the merchandise has struck another blow.
For Diane Horning, who lost her 26-year-old son Matthew in the attacks, the museum is the only place she can visit his remains, which were never recovered.
“To me, it’s the crassest, most insensitive thing to have a commercial enterprise at the place where my son died,” she told the New York Post.
“Here is essentially our tomb of the unknown. To sell baubles I find quite shocking and repugnant.”
She added: “I think it’s a money-making venture to support inflated salaries, and they’re willing to do it over my son’s dead body.”
Artefacts on display at the museum include a mangled fire engine, twisted pillars from the wreckage, pictures of the perished and an inscription from Virgil, studded in steel from the towers, reading: “No day shall erase you from the memory of time.”
Families of those killed in the attacks, along with emergency workers, survivors and other groups have had a week of 24-hour access to the museum before it officially opens to the public on Wednesday.
Tickets have already sold out for the opening day.
Michael Frazier, a spokesman for the museum, said although it is non-profit, it does not receive any government funding.
“To care for the memorial and museum, our organisation relies on private fundraising, gracious donations and revenue from ticketing and carefully selected keepsake items for retail,” he added.
“Many of our guests from the 9/11 community have visited the shop and purchased a keepsake from their historic experience.”