December 24, 2020
Liberty Island is famously known as the home of the Statue of Liberty. Every year, millions of people come from around the world to see her in person and take pictures. What many people don’t realize is that Liberty Island is also home to a brand new, state-of-the-art museum that showcases the entire history and significance of the statue.
This guide will tell you everything to know about the Statue of Liberty Museum- how to visit, what you’ll see and exactly what to expect.
For years, the only museum on the island was inside the pedestal of the statue. While informative, the museum was cramped and often overcrowded. Years worth of history was stuffed into, essentially, a long hallway.
Unfortunately, it also wasn’t accessible to everyone visiting the statue. Since the museum was housed inside of the pedestal, only guests with pedestal or crown tickets could access it. This accounts for only 20% of the island’s visitors. Meaning that the museum was only visited by a couple thousand people each day.
Seeing the need to create a facility that was inclusive for all guests, the National Parks Service began work on a brand new museum space in 2016. The new location, across the island from the statue, allows for anyone who visits the island to check it out. It’s design also incorporated more modern elements as well as integrated parkland around the facade. The new space officially opened on May 16, 2019.
The museum focuses on the creation, meaning and the history of the Statue of Liberty. Inside are more than 500 photographs and graphics. You’ll see pictures from the statue’s construction building in France and early sketches of the pedestal design. On top of all the history and artifacts, the 26,000 sq. foot museum offers beautiful views of New York Harbor and Manhattan.
The collection of exhibits inside the museum is meant to be as engaging and interactive as possible. Each room takes you on a journey from the seeds of the original idea to the eventual opening of the Statue of Liberty.
There are three major sections of the museum:
The first exhibit you will encounter is in the theater. “The Story of an Icon” is a multimedia film that immerses you in the beginnings of Lady Liberty. Starting with a virtual fly-through of the statue’s interior, you’ll then be introduced to Édouard de Laboulaye (the Frenchman who first proposed the idea for the statue) and learn about the various ideals she was meant to represent.
The Engagement Gallery brings you inside a reproduction of the warehouse where sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi brought his design of Lady Liberty to life. You’ll see displays of his studio that take you step by step through the construction process.
Finally, your visit will end at the Inspiration Gallery. Here you can see the original torch up-close and add your portrait to the Becoming Liberty collage.
Your experience in the museum will be both educational and intriguing. The unique collections invite you to consider the true meaning of the Statue of Liberty and discover how her influence has transformed over the years.
Nope! Entrance to the museum does not require a separate reservation or an extra ticket. The fee is covered by your ferry ticket to Liberty Island. Due to the new museum’s location, anyone with a ferry ticket can enter.
That would depend on how long you spend at each exhibit and how heavy the crowds are, but I would say to leave about a half hour to an hour to see the entire museum.
As a rule, tour guides are not permitted in certain parts of the museum. So the experience is self-guided. However, there are audio guides available in 12 different languages to all ticket holders. You can find them upon your arrival to Liberty Island.
Yes, the museum is still open, but with some limitations. Social distancing and capacity limitations will be enforced. If there are too many people inside the museum, you may have to wait outside until a space inside opens up. However, visitation levels overall have been significantly lower due to the pandemic, so chances are you will be able to visit without waiting and with plenty of space.
You might be thinking to yourself, is it really worth the time to see the museum? I get it. There’s a lot to do in the city and it makes you feel the need to skip over some experiences. But at the end of the day, the museum exists to give every visitor an enhanced experience. You’ll leave with a new appreciation and respect for the Statue of Liberty. Young or old, the story behind this monument will inspire you. It’s worth the time to make the most of your trip.