NEW YORK - President Barack Obama inaugurates Thursday a museum commemorating the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the culmination of three years of delays, controversy and financial woes as he opens a memorial to an event that changed America.
On the eve of the dedication. Charles Wolf made no secret of his apprehension at a site he associates with the death of his wife Katherine.
"I am looking forward to it and dreading it. It brings everything up," Wolf said.
While Obama will cut the ribbon on the museum, it will not open its doors to the public until May 21.
The museum, based where the Twin Towers once stood near a permanent memorial that opened in 2011, appears modest, almost intimate, with only one floor that can be seen from the outside compared to the towering skyscrapers that surround it.
But the atrium at Ground Zero is only the museum's visible part.
Visitors slowly march into the bowels of what once were the Twin Towers, for an emotional journey that retraces the tragedy that New York will never forget, one that changed life in America by ultimately prompting its war on terror.
The underground space is impressive.
From the top of the 10,220 sq m museum, visitors can gaze deep inside to see a huge segment of a slurry wall built to protect the site from flooding of the Hudson River.
At the start of the exhibits, a map details the path of the four planes on a suicide mission that fateful day nearly 13 years ago.
A photograph of the towers shows a blue sky before the attacks, while voices heard in a dark room express shock and horror.
The ramp then slowly guides visitors down into the entrails of the ghost of the towers.
A huge iron column, the last recovered from the site in May 2002, is shown, along with stairs from a nearby street that were used by hundreds of people to flee the site of the drama.
It takes time to reach the bottom of the museum, which houses the exhibits and the huge Foundation Hall that shows traces of one of the towers' foundations.
"Visitors come with their own memories, we wanted it to be very gradual," said Carl Krebs, one of the project's architects.