It has been over 130 years since sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi gave form to one of the world’s greatest symbols of freedom.
The Statue of Liberty stands today as an inspiration to all. She is at once a reminder of our nation’s history and of our enduring vision of freedom, hope, and opportunity for the future.
But before she towered over New York Harbor, welcoming voyagers with the embrace of possibility and sharing her legacy with over four million visitors a year, she was, simply, an idea…
…a vision of a powerful way to motivate the world over, not just with the story of liberty in the United States, but also with its hope and possibility around the globe.
Today, an exciting new vision to build on this great legacy and share the message of liberty with millions more people stands before us the Statue of Liberty Museum.
With the museum now open, it is the most monumental addition to Liberty Island since the Statue herself arrived. More than that, it allows millions more visitors to enjoy the Statue of Liberty experience and be inspired by her legacy and message of freedom and opportunity.
From Idea to Icon: Building the Statue of Liberty
You already know that the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to the United States. But did you know that her construction was made possible, in large part, by people like you and me?
Indeed, her construction was a remarkable feat of engineering in its time, but also a triumph of generosity on the part of ordinary citizens, each giving to their own ability, to realize the dream of the Statue.
From the time Bertholdi imagined “Liberty Enlightening the World,” it took ten years for French and American citizens to bring Lady Liberty to life. Finally, in 1885, the last pennies and nickels needed to complete the pedestal in the United States poured in. And on October 28, 1886, in a dedication ceremony presided over by President Grover Cleveland, the Statue was unveiled to the world.
The museum shows the massive negative molds necessary to create the Statue’s final form. Artifacts from her development and exhibits on her message in the context of world events will further illuminate her story.
An Inspiration Gallery. Finally, in this awe-inspiring space, people are invited to document their visit by adding their names and photos to an ever-growing Liberty Mosaic. The tour culminates with an up-close view of Liberty’s most iconic symbol—her original torch—which Lady Liberty held high for nearly 100 years. Rescued from the elements and replaced in 1986, the torch is the most powerful artifact visitors encounter as they reach the end of their museum experience, a touchstone of the light she continues to shine from generation to generation.
The Statue of Liberty Museum is a world-class museum to engage visitors in the history and future of liberty through thought-provoking experiences including:
An Immersive Theater. Weaving through this soaring theater space, museum-goers learn the rich story of the Statue’s origins. Progressing through this visual presentation, they are captivated by a virtual experience of ascending the Statue, recreating the views and sounds from within her interior. Visitors are also be invited to contemplate liberty today and its measures around the world, such as access to education, free elections, and free press.
An Engagement Gallery. Here, visitors are able to explore what took place in the warehouse where Bartholdi built the Statue. In a series of interactive, multimedia displays evoking the feeling of being in the sculptor’s studio, they see the step-by-step process of her construction, from small plaster model to the pounding of copper sheets on the new colossus.
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, with conquering limbs astride from land to land, here at our sea-washed, sunset gates stand a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand glows worldwide welcome; her mild eyes command the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your stoned pomp!” cries she with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
In 1883, New York native Emma Lazarus wrote “The New Colossus” for an auction to raise funds for construction of the pedestal. In 1903, words from this iconic poem were engraved on the Statue’s base so that all visitors can read the words that celebrate Lady Liberty’s promise to the disenfranchised people of the world.
My father and mother both immigrated to the U.S. through Ellis Island. I have visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island twice and it is a very touching memory for me. There is a large plaque with my parents’ names on it.
If you would like to join me in making a donation to this gateway to America, you can write to Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Foundation, 17 Battery Place, New York, NY 10004.