What Age Groups are REALLY Ready to See the 9/11 Museum?

So you want to take your student group to see the 9/11 Museum and Memorial, but you’re not so sure on how to approach the situation, right? Don’t worry, we get that a lot, and it’s not unreasonable to feel this way at all. The museum itself says the number one question they often hear is: "I want to tell my child about 9/11 but I don’t know where to begin."
We don’t think visiting this all-important museum has to be hard, and we have a few tips on bringing your own student group here, as well as what age groups are most appropriate to visit.

About the Museum and Memorial:
The National September 11th Memorial and Museum opened on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks in 2011. This monument and building complex commemorates the 2,977 victims of the Twin Towers' collapse and the six victims of the 1993 World Trade Center bombings. This sobering educational opportunity is mostly frequented by those in their teenage years and older, but is absolutely open to anybody interested in learning. Both our company and the museum itself understands that the subject matter is touchy for children under a certain age, but we also believe it is a necessary thing to talk about eventually. The 9/11 Museum offers students K-12 different age oriented workshops, self-guided visit options, and online course/curriculum-related worksheets to help smooth the visit.

An average visit should take you roughly two hours with the entire museum broken up into three different parts: Day of 9/11, Before 9/11, and After 9/11. Throughout each section, you will learn all about the World Trade Center, the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and Flight 93. The background of each structure and event will be given in detail, as well as the aftermath and implications of each. See the Memorial Exhibition before you go, filled with the names of those victims lost to the tragedy, as well as the very last standing column and the slurry wall within Foundation Hall.

Talking to your students/kids:
We think the best thing to do to prepare both you and your student group is to talk it over first. The 9/11 Museum was extremely helpful online and onsite brochures titled "Tips for Talking to your Children," geared toward 8-11-year-olds and younger. The main tips basically state that you should:

  • Take advantage of a pre-pep talk about the subject matter
  • Use the artifacts matched with age-appropriate questions inside the museum
  • Be specific with facts
  • Listen to their questions
  • Don’t claim to have all the answers

Questions and Answers:
Speaking of answers, we think it is also important to go over a few basic question and answer sessions before arriving/ while inside.

  • What was the World Trade Center? - A lower Manhattan 16-acre complex full of offices.
  • What were the Twin Towers? - The tallest buildings in NYC at 1362 feet, identical towers except for the antenna on the North Tower.
  • Why did this happen? - Terrorists used violence to frighten our country and our leaders.
  • Why is some of the museum below ground? - Few remnants still remain and are visible underground on the original site.

Official Age Suggestion:
We as a company believe that there is no age limit to visiting the museum and memorial as long as both adults and children are fully aware of the seriousness of the subject matter. The museum notes that the "historic exhibitions may not be appropriate for visitors under 10 years of age" officially, though they do also keep lesson plans, workshops, and worksheets available for K-2, 3-5,6-8, and 9-12 (in partnership with the NYC Department of Education and Holocaust Education Program).

If you feel comfortable enough bringing your kids/student group and explaining what needs to be explained about the subject matter, then we are positive the onsite films, guides, and educational programs paired with the online brochures and Q&A session help guides will make the whole visit easier and much more worthwhile for all involved!