The National September 11 Memorial Museum will open ceremonially with President Obama in attendance on Thursday. Six days later, it will welcome the public. The New York Times was given an early preview of the museum and has assembled a beautiful, media-rich tour of the facility, most of which is 70 feet below ground. The museum has always meant to serve as a monument to how the 9/11 attacks shaped history — designed for a world that's still living with the ramifications and repercussions of that day. It's also intended to pay remarkable tribute to the nearly 3,000 individuals that were killed in the attacks.
The road to opening the museum has been long, overloaded with impassioned debate about which content belongs, construction challenges, and complaints about its $24 entry fee. There's also the matter of cost; the museum and gorgeous memorial plaza above it cost $700 million to build and will demand $60 million each year to maintain. But it's finally days from being opened to the world, and this early look suggests that organizers managed to realize all of their goals. The National September 11 Memorial Museum tells the story of a day that's "still very much with us" as director Alice Greenwald put it. It manages to speak to every conceivable audience, and will stir strong emotions from those who were in Manhattan on that Tuesday morning, millions who watched the unthinkable events unfold on TV, and future visitors that hadn't yet been born.