Bloomberg and DVF Show Support for 9/11 Memorial & Museum

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Earlier this week, on June 20, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg and Michael Bloomberg, along with National 9/11 Memorial & Museum board member Emily Rafferty, hosted a breakfast for members of the fashion press. At the mic-free event, guests discussed current events and garnered support for the memorial and museum.

The common assumption today is that downtown New York, specifically the Financial District and its 9/11 Memorial and Museum, is attracting more visitors than ever. And while tourism and charitable donations for its projects may be growing, they aren’t meeting everyone’s expectations. For instance, the administration of the 9/11 Museum feels it has a problem: too few people visit these days.

Since the museum’s opening two years ago, around six million people have walked through its doors. These numbers, to Bloomberg’s and the institution’s frustration, are not significant enough. (In July of 2014, the Metropolitan Museum of Art reported 6.2 million in annual attendance; the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum claimed over 40 million visitors since its opening in 1993, which roughly amounts to 1.7 million visitors per year.)

According to Bloomberg, the 9/11 Museum and Memorial and its artifacts tell the stories of that day best, stories he worries we may forget. “We tend not to remember history very well, particularity in the world of social media. Every problem can’t be solved in 140 characters,” he said. In an effort to boost awareness and attendance, which he believes are crucial, he has raised $450 million for both the memorial site and museum.

One of the museum’s goals is to educate visitors about tragedy (there are paper tissues offered in many of the exhibit rooms) and how we as individuals and a nation confront it. But it also exists, and perhaps not so obliquely, to demonstrate perseverance. The development of the surrounding neighborhood—the Freedom Tower, the shops at Brookfield Place, even its newly sprouted parks and baseball fields—is proof of this. In 2001, there were just five hotels in the area. Today, there are nearly 25. “It’s not just [about] sadness,” von Furstenberg said of the museum and memorial at the breakfast. “It’s about resiliency, and that is what this country is about.”

“If you can tell the story and educate our kids as to what happened there and why,” added Bloomberg, “the next generation won’t let it happen again.”