Jul 19, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

9/11 Museum: Secret Memorial ‘Family Room’ Opens to Public

Sep 17, 2014 03:20 AM EDT

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What used to be a private sanctuary for families of 9/11 victims is now open to the public.

According to the New York State Museum website, the Family Room was built with an aim to provide a "private, indoor space" where families of the victims can grieve and reflect. The Family Room was located on the 20th floor of One Liberty Plaza. The office space was donated by Brookfield Properties, stated the NY State Museum website.

For 12 years, the private sanctuary served as a secret memorial for families of the victims. The New York Times reported that access was strictly granted to relatives only.

"By presenting what was known as a medical examiner's family identification card, victims' relatives were admitted during regular workdays and at night, on weekends and on holidays," said the outlet.

"The public was never allowed in," said Mark A. Schaming director of the New York State Museum as quoted by Time Warner Cable News. "The room wasn't photographed, and it was just a very private and reverential place where they could go and reflect on the people who were killed."

Now, the previously private Family Room has been opened to the public via a recreation at the New York State Museum in Albany. There, public visitors will see thousands of artifacts and mementos in the form of photos, clothing items, letters and cards, shoes and so much more.

The move comes after the opening of the National September 11 Memorial Museum in spring.

Recreating the Family Room proved to be a monumental task, The New York Times implied in the report. The State Museum worked hand in hand with the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the memorial museum to inform the victims' families so as to sort the thousands of donated mementos.

Aside from the tedious moving and recreating process, coming up with the decision to make the Family Room open to public was also a difficult task.

"The opening to public scrutiny of those messages, remembrances, images and ephemera that were intended to be private and personal was indeed a very difficult decision made by family members," The New York Times quoted Anthoula Katsimatides, sister of one of the 9/11 victims, John Katsimatides.

"I think it was the right decision," she added. "...I feel it's time for people to see our pain, our anguish, our love and our strength; to experience all that we felt and feel about our loved ones, in its purest and most uninhibited form."

Lee Ielipi, president of the September 11th Families Association, echoes the same, saying in the Time Warner Cable News report: "The world needed to see what happened to us. And I don't mean New York. What happened to the people who were affected by 9/11."

Take a virtual tour of the Family Room here.

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