March 24, 2014 at 2:58 PM ET
More than 12 years after terror attacks felled the World Trade Center, the National September 11 Memorial Museum will open to the public May 21, officials announced Monday.
Relatives, survivors, rescue workers, first responders from agencies that lost members in the 9/11 attacks, and lower Manhattan residents and business owners will get exclusive access to the museum for 24-hours a day during a dedication period from May 15 through May 20.
"Keeping the museum's doors open for 24 hours during this period will also serve as a small tribute to the thousands of Ground Zero rescue and recovery workers who worked around the clock in the aftermath of 9/11 as the city, the nation and the world supported them," the not-for-profit National September 11 Memorial & Museum said Monday in a release announcing the opening date.
"Through its long commitment to educate future generations and to safeguard an important American history, building the museum is in large part the answer to the violence of the 9/11 attacks. The stories of heroism, of valor and the unwavering spirit felt and witnessed on that day, and the ensuing months, will be told for years to come after the museum's doors open to visitors from around the world," 9/11 Memorial Chair and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.
The museum's primary exhibition, called "In Memoriam," will honor the 2,983 people killed Sept. 11, 2001, and the six people killed in the Feb. 26, 1993, bombing of the World Trade Center. It will examine the events of 9/11 and what led up to those events. Items from the site, personal artifacts, photographs, audio and video footage, testimonials and other items will be on display.
Public tickets to the museum will go on sale March 26 with a regular adult ticket priced at $24. Admission will be free Tuesdays from 5 to 8 p.m. and will remain free to 9/11 family members and 9/11 rescue and recovery workers who are registered with the Memorial. Reservations will be required for the free dedication period.
The plaza and its enormous waterfalls at the footprints of the two towers have been open to the public since September 2011. Free passes are required to visit the plaza, but a $2 surcharge is asses to reservation made over the Internet or by phone.
More than 12 million people have already visited the plaza, Anthony Guido, communications manager of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, told CNBC.