Statue of Liberty About To Get New Neighbor: A Museum That Honors Her
The Statue of Liberty’s original torch, a welcoming beacon for immigrants and boats in New York Harbor for nearly a century, will be the highlight of a new $70 million museum that depicts the statue’s history, influence, and legacy in the world.
Entrance to the museum, set to open on Liberty Island in 2019, will be free with the purchase of a ferry ticket to Liberty Island and Ellis Island. It will enhance the experience for the island’s 4.3 million annual visitors, the majority of whom can’t get a ticket to the statue’s crown and current museum, which is in the statue’s pedestal, due to safety limitations put in place after September 11, 2001.
“With state-of-the-art exhibitions and iconic artifacts including the statue’s original torch, the new Statue of Liberty Museum will ensure that future generations know, understand, and appreciate all that Lady Liberty represents in America and around the world,” Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island Superintendent John Piltzecker said in a release.
Designs for the 26,000-foot museum, which were unveiled this month by the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, feature a building that appears to rise out of the ground in the shadow of the 300-foot-tall statue, with a green roof-scape and bird-safe glass exteriors. The centerpiece will be the statue’s original torch, held high for nearly 100 years but replaced in 1986. It will be housed in a glass-walled gallery with views of the Statue of Liberty and the New York City skyline. The building will allow the display of artifacts and exhibits on the history of the statue, its original concept, design, and construction, and the 1986 centennial restoration. The museum will explore the philosophical concept of liberty and how the Statue of Liberty serves not only as an American symbol but as an iconic global symbol.
Visitors will be able to take a virtual flythrough inside the monument with awe-inspiring perspectives and an overview of the statue and how the world has changed around it. Exhibits delve into stories about the statue’s construction, history, and global impact. The culmination of the museum experience has visitors consider their own roles in liberty’s future through engaging activities.
“Our goal is for visitors to take away a richer picture of what the Statue of Liberty has meant to people throughout her history – not only in this nation but around the world – and to see themselves as part of the amazing story of liberty’s future,” said Edwin Schlossberg, president and principal designer of ESI Design, which is creating the exhibitions.
The interior and exterior spaces will be built with the materials native to Liberty Island and materials used to build the Statue of Liberty and Fort Wood, including Stony Creek granite, bronze, plaster, and a variety of native vegetation. Pursuant to the new FEMA executive order on floodplain management and resiliency, the museum will be set above 500-year flood levels and built to withstand hurricane-force winds.
“From the start, the design of the Statue of Liberty Museum was conceived as an extension of the park,” said Nicholas Garrison, partner and project designer at FXFOWLE, the architecture firm that designed the building. “The goal was to engage with the park’s formal, axial plan and respond to its spectacular setting. The island’s landscape is lifted and merged with the architecture to create space for the museum in a new geology. The building’s angular forms and spaces are shaped by its views and the irregularity of the water’s edge, celebrating liberty.”
Liberty Island will continue to be open to visitors throughout construction of the new museum. Ferry tickets and boat schedules to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty are available at www.StatueCruises.com.
Diane von Furstenberg was named chair of the fundraising campaign that seeks to raise $100 million for the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, which, in partnership with the National Park Service, drove the historic restorations of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
“Lady Liberty is the symbol of everything America is about: freedom, hope, possibility, and resilience. It is she that millions of immigrants saw first as they arrived in this country, their hearts full of dreams for a brighter future. Now it is my hope that the Statue of Liberty and her incredible story will live on and on, inspiring generations for years to come,” Ms. von Furstenberg said.
This is the first new building construction undertaken by the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, which has been responsible for historic restoration and preservation since the 1980s.
“The Statue of Liberty is not just one of the most recognized monuments in the world, but an international symbol of hope that deserves to have her story shared with everyone who visits Liberty Island,” said Stephen Briganti, Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation President and CEO.
For more information about the new Statue of Liberty Museum, visit http://www.libertyellisfoundation.org/statueoflibertymuseum.
The Statue of Liberty, a gift of friendship from the people of France, was dedicated on October 28, 1886, and designated as a national monument in 1924. In 1984, the statue was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
SU alumni construction firm commissioned to build Statue of Liberty Museum
The Phelps Construction Firm said it wasn’t a coincidence that their company colors are orange and blue.
Three Syracuse University alumni have been commissioned to commemorate the Statue of Liberty by building a museum on Liberty Island in New York Harbor.
The Phelps Construction Group was founded by SU alumni Douglas Phelps and Frank Salerno, both 1981 graduates, and Jeffrey Rainforth, who graduated in 1997. The company was commissioned by the Statue of Liberty–Ellis Island Foundation to build the museum.
The group hopes to complete construction of the Statue of Liberty Museum by the end of 2018, so the museum can open to the public in 2019. Construction on the museum will begin this month.
The museum will house artifacts related to the Statue of Liberty as well as an interactive display that tells its history. The museum will be designed by New York-based architecture firm FXFOWLE, which was co-founded by another SU alumnus, Bruce Fowle.
One of the most significant artifacts that will be exhibited in the museum is the Statue of Liberty’s original torch, which was moved to the base of the statue and replaced with a replica in the 1980s due to damage.
“At some point in 2018, we’re gonna take the original torch out of the base of the statue and move it to the museum, where it will stay, and it’ll be one of the big exhibits inside the museum,” said Phelps, president of the construction group.
The museum will sit above sea level and is designed to take on storms that may affect Liberty Island, said Rainforth, co-founder and vice president of Phelps Construction Group, in an email. The museum will also have an observation deck so visitors can view the New York Harbor, he added.
“The structure will be beautiful with a modern look, yet we will construct it with materials and a design that will fit in perfectly on the island and be a compliment to the statue,” said Salerno, co-founder of the construction group, in an email.
The construction group was formed in 2007 when Phelps and Salerno, who were former roommates at SU, got together with Rainforth, who interned at Phelps’ firm while he was a student at SU.
“There is no coincidence that our company logo is blue and orange,” Phelps said.
The construction group has worked on many other projects in the New York and New Jersey areas, including buildings in the Teachers Village in Newark, New Jersey, as well as several projects for the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League, Phelps said.
The Statue of Liberty Museum will join another of Phelps Construction Group’s important projects in the area, the Peopling of America Center on Ellis Island. This center was completed in May 2015 and features exhibits that explore immigrants’ journeys to the United States, according to the Statue of Liberty–Ellis Island Foundation’s website.
“This landmark project is just another place a few proud Orangemen have dug their heels into the grounds of history,” Rainforth said.