The Statue of Liberty Museum Opens This May in NYC

Standing 305 feet above the water in New York Harbor is one of the world’s most recognizable figures: the Statue of Liberty. This iconic New York landmark is getting her due with a new museum opening May 16. The Statue of Liberty Museum, adjacent to the Statue on Liberty Island, will be free for all visitors. The museum will contain unique multimedia experiences and astounding artifacts from the copper lady’s 130-year history. Below are some highlights about this brand-new cultural institution.

Statue of Liberty Museum

Rendering via Liberty Ellis Foundation

Museum Galleries

The Statue of Liberty Museum, a space of 26,000 square feet, will contain three main sections: the Immersive Theater, Engagement Gallery, and Inspiration Gallery.

The Immersive Theater will surround visitors in images of Lady Liberty from the past, present, and future. This 8-10 minute experience will include a fly-through in the interior of the statue and archival footage from the statue’s storied history. The film will also challenge visitors to consider the challenge of carrying out liberty in education, voting, and the press worldwide.

From the Immersive Theater, visitors will walk to the Engagement Gallery. Here, multimedia images will imagine the warehouse where French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi transformed Liberty from a plaster model into a 111.5-foot copper figure. The gallery will teach visitors about not only Liberty herself but the granite pedestal under her feet, designed by Richard Morris Hunt. Visitors will consider the statue’s continued impact on the United States and the world in other areas of the gallery.

The final section, the Inspiration Gallery, will inspire reflection and wonder before visitors exit the museum. The Statue of Liberty’s original torch, which she held for almost 100 years, will stand in the open gallery for visitors to examine and appreciate. This torch, which underwent a long series of modifications throughout its tenure, became damaged beyond repair and was removed in 1984. In the Inspiration Gallery, visitors can also make a self-portrait and a collage to include in a digital environment called Becoming Liberty. This gallery’s wide glass walls create a fantastic space for photos of the statue and the skyline beyond.

Outside the museum, visitors can view partial reproductions of Lady Liberty and walk up the sloping green roof to a paved terrace. Here, visitors can marvel at the city from the rooftop.  

Accessible & Sustainable

The museum seeks not only to educate and inspire, but also to address the frustrations of visitors to Liberty Island. An estimated 80% don’t gain access inside the Statue, which has become more difficult due to stringent security restrictions in the years since 9/11. With the Statue of Liberty Museum, the immense crowds can flow through this informative experience for free and appreciate Lady Liberty up-close during their visit to Liberty Island.

The National Park Service/U.S. Department of the Interior, architecture firm FXCollaborative, and ESI Design have all collaborated on the design and construction of the museum and have prioritized sustainable building practices throughout. Some building materials, for example, are repurposed from the original Administration building. Design features throughout the structure will conserve energy and water, and the building is LEED Certified.

The green space on the roof will not only create an attractive facade for the museum but also divert waste, manage stormwater, cool the museum interior, and improve air quality. The museum design will also accommodate local and migrating bird species with bird-safe glass windows and a habitat in the meadow grass on the roof.

If you’d like to see the construction efforts yourself, view the developing museum with this Earth Cam on the museum website.

Getting There

Statue Cruises

Once the museum opens this spring, you can experience this unique new attraction during your walk around Liberty Island. Book a ticket with Statue Cruises, the only service providing direct ferry access to both Liberty and Ellis Islands. Here are more tips on using Statue Cruises.

The Statue of Liberty Museum will open May 16, 2019 on Liberty Island. Visit for more information.

About the Author

Merrill Lee Girardeau lives and writes in Brooklyn.

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