Here's Your First Look Inside the New Statue of Liberty Museum

Statue of Liberty Museum
Photo: Courtesy of FXCollaborative

On Thursday, May 16, Liberty Island is opening the Statue of Liberty Museum, a $100-million project that first broke ground two years ago.

Since September 11, 2001, only about 20 percent of the island's 4.3 million visitors have been able to see the old museum —formerly located in the Statue's pedestal — due to increased security and a new ticketing system. The new museum, which is free to anyone who purchases a ferry ticket to Liberty and Ellis Islands, will reach the other 80%, making the Statue's history and legacy more accessible to New York City tourists and residents.

Rising up from the pedestrian mall at the top of the island, the museum's structure was built to pay respect to Lady Liberty herself, its height not exceeding that of the fort her pedestal sits on. Even the granite staircase that leads up to the museum's roof was built with the same granite used to build the Statue's pedestal. Climbing the steps, visitors reach a roof terrace that provides unparelled views of the Statue, lower Manhattan, and New York Harbor, culminating in a sense of awe and appreciation for Lady Liberty and her promise.

The 26,000-square-foot space is broken up into three parts: an Immersive Theater, an Engagement Gallery, and an Inspiration Gallery. Guests can begin their visit by stepping into the Theater and watching a 10-minute video that tells the story of the Statue — from how she was built to how she became a symbol of liberty and freedom — as narrated by Diane Sawyer. The video features never-before-seen illustrations of the Statue as well as first-time drone footage of the Statue's exterior.

In the next gallery, visitors can dive even deeper into the Statue's history, starting with an immersive look at French sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi's sketches of the Lady Liberty and ending with artifacts that depict her prominence in pop culture.

Statue of Liberty Museum
Courtesy of Elizabeth Preske

The museum's shining feature, the Statue's original torch, is on full display in the Inspiration Gallery, with incredible views of Lady Liberty through the floor-to-ceiling glass walls. The torch, held high for 102 years was replaced in 1986. Up until November, the torch had been on display in the museum's former location in the Statue's pedestal.

Statue of Liberty Museum
Courtesy of Elizabeth Preske

Museum-goers will also be able to touch a full-scale model of the Statue's face before continuing on to an interactive exhibit where they can share what liberty means to them.

The museum has also teamed up with Apple to create a Statue of Liberty app for those who are unable to visit. With augmented reality experiences and a "Through Her Eyes" feature that allows users to see New York City through the Statue's eyes from 1886 to present day, the app offers an additional look at the Statue of Liberty's place in history and time. The app is available on iOS starting today.

To see the museum for yourself, you will need to buy a ferry ticket to Liberty and Ellis Islands from Statue Cruises. Tickets start at $18.50 for adults.

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