Statue of Liberty

Making of the Museum

Bringing a
Museum to life

The need for a
new experience

The story of freedom and liberty, in our nation and around the globe, is ever-evolving. It is also fragile, deserves continued reflection, and should be available to all. Since 1886, the world has looked to a small island in New York Harbor for inspiration.

For many years, the millions who visited Liberty Island each year could learn about the Statue’s history and influence in a museum located in the monument’s pedestal. However, since 9/11, increased security restrictions and life-safety upgrades limited public access. Fewer than 20% of visitors were able to enjoy the complete experience of walking the island, entering the Statue, and exploring the exhibit space. In addition, Liberty Island welcomes increasingly more and more visitors.

Without question, to truly represent “liberty for all,” it was time to create a new, larger home for the museum. The Statue of Liberty Museum represents this exciting next chapter in our story of freedom. A chance to give millions more an opportunity to explore the Statue of Liberty experience and better understand her history.

Statue of Liberty Museum

Groundbreaking

In October of 2016, The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. (SOLEIF) and its National Park Service partners unveiled plans for the new museum. It would be the first new construction undertaken by SOLEIF, which had been responsible for the historic restoration and preservation of Lady Liberty since the 1980s.

Fundraising

Board member Diane von Furstenberg – dubbed “Godmother of the Statue of Liberty” – was named chair of the fundraising campaign. She led the Foundation’s effort to raise $100 million to build the museum, a new secondary security screening facility, and provide Liberty Island with beautification upgrades. Philanthropists, industry leaders, and cultural icons pledged their support. A series of tribute videos demonstrates what motivated many to get involved.

Among its many fundraising efforts, SOLEIF conducted its first crowdfunding campaign. The initiative harkened back to the 1885 fundraising scheme to raise money for construction of the Statue’s pedestal, for which America was responsible. With contributions lacking, publisher Joseph Pulitzer inspired thousands to donate by printing the names of all contributors in his newspaper, The World. Thousands rose to the occasion in 1885, and again in 2018!

Design & Construction

Construction began in October 2016 and concluded in May 2019. The design concept incorporates best practices for sustainability, including constructing the building to withstand hurricane-force winds and setting it above 500-year flood levels. Bird-safe glass and native vegetation accommodate migrating flocks, butterflies, and other creatures. And the aesthetic complements the Statue, pedestal, and Fort Wood through the use of similar building materials such as Stony Creek granite, bronze, and plaster.

Moving the Torch

For nearly 100 years the gold and copper marvel served as a beacon of freedom in the outstretched hand of Lady Liberty. In 1984, as part of the Statue’s centennial restoration project, the torch was removed from atop the monument and placed on display inside the Statue of Liberty Monument’s pedestal. In November 1985, a replica of Bartholdi’s original design was installed onto the Statue and formally dedicated during the July 4, 1986, Liberty Weekend centennial celebration.

In November of 2018, led by The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation and The U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, a team of engineers disassembled the torch and relocated it from the monument’s pedestal across Liberty Island to the new museum site. A special hydraulically-stabilized transporter vehicle took the torch, along with a replica of Lady Liberty’s face, 470 feet across Liberty Island and then the artifacts were lifted by crane into the museum’s Inspiration Gallery.

Completion

The Statue of Liberty Museum was completed in May of 2019. The project was a massive undertaking that truly honors Lady Liberty and could not have been accomplished without donations from our multitude of supporters.