Mu­seum open­ing at Statue of Lib­erty

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Deepti Hajela

NEW YORK >> A new mu­seum open­ing at the Statue of Lib­erty is giv­ing vis­i­tors an­other op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore its his­tory and the im­pact the iconic struc­ture has had on the world.

The 26,000-square-foot mu­seum on Lib­erty Is­land, sched­uled to open to the pub­lic on Thurs­day, is the new home for the statue’s orig­i­nal torch and other ar­ti­facts which had pre­vi­ously been in a smaller mu­seum space in­side the statue’s pedestal, which is ac­ces­si­ble only to the frac­tion of the more than 4 mil­lion an­nual vis­i­tors who man­age to get limited-avail­abil­ity statue en­try tick­ets.

“We looked at this small mu­seum and thought, wouldn’t it be won­der­ful to ... move it out to a place where more peo­ple could ex­pe­ri­ence it,” said John Piltzecker, Na­tional Park Ser­vice su­per­in­ten­dent of the Statue of Lib­erty Na­tional Mon­u­ment and El­lis Is­land.

The new space, lo­cated some­what away from the en­trance to the statue, is open to any­one who comes to Lib­erty Is­land, with ad­mis­sion in­cluded in the price of the ferry ticket. From the out­side, the glass walls and cop­per-col­ored roof ap­pear to be ris­ing out of the earth, with a gi­ant stair­case ris­ing to a rooftop ter­race at the cen­ter.

The en­tire struc­ture is meant to con­nect to Lady Lib­erty, us­ing the same gran­ite that’s part of the statue pedestal and in­clud­ing cop­per as a nod to the ma­te­rial the statue is made of, said Cameron Ring­ness, the project de­signer at FX-Col­lab­o­ra­tive, which cre­ated the mu­seum’s over­all de­sign.

“It’s re­ally try­ing to be­long to the site and the land­scape and not feel like this build­ing that just got placed here out of nowhere,” Ring­ness said. “We wanted to en­hance the feel­ing that it’s re­ally spe­cial to be in prox­im­ity to the statue.”

In­side, there are three main gallery spa­ces, start­ing with a the­ater where vis­i­tors walk through as they watch a film that goes into how the idea for the statue came about, the ef­forts that went into its mak­ing in France and its ar­rival in the New York har­bor, as well as talk­ing about what lib­erty meant then and what it means in the cur­rent day.

The film uses un­usual footage taken by drones, in­clud­ing an in­te­rior shot ris­ing up through the in­side of the statue.

An­other gallery goes into the build­ing of the statue, with ex­hibits meant to show what it would have been like in Frederic-Au­guste Bartholdi’s stu­dio, and the mod­els and molds used to make it, as well as a replica of the statue’s foot. An­other sec­tion shows how iconic the statue has be­come, not only in Amer­i­can cul­ture but around the world, with items like a meno­rah where each can­dle holder is a small Lady Lib­erty, as well as comic book cov­ers, dec­o­ra­tive plates, and dolls.

In the fi­nal sec­tion, vis­i­tors are en­cour­aged to take dig­i­tal self-por­traits and add their thoughts on what lib­erty means to them, as they look at the orig­i­nal torch and a replica of the statue’s face.

In­clud­ing that last part was vi­tal, said Ed­win Schloss­berg, pres­i­dent and prin­ci­pal de­signer at ESI De­sign, which cre­ated the ex­hi­bi­tion spa­ces.

“This statue was built to con­grat­u­late the United States for fight­ing the Civil War to free the slaves,” he said. “It is based on this idea that lib­erty was a crit­i­cal thing that we all had to strug­gle for, so that idea had to con­tinue as a core value in this ex­pe­ri­ence.”

In con­junc­tion with the mu­seum’s open­ing, the Statue of Lib­erty-El­lis Is­land Foun­da­tion, which spear­headed the ef­fort to raise the $100 mil­lion in pri­vate­sec­tor funds for the project, also de­vel­oped an app with Ap­ple to bring as­pects of the mu­seum to peo­ple who can­not visit in per­son.

Users will be able to ex­plore the mu­seum’s life-size replica of the statue’s foot, for in­stance. With aug­mented-re­al­ity tech­nol­ogy, which su­per­im­poses an­i­ma­tion over a real-life set­ting, users will be able to walk around and see the vir­tual replica from dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives. Other fea­tures in­clude a look at the city sky­line through the decades from the Statue of Lib­erty’s eyes, as well as how the statue it­self looked be­fore its cop­per ex­te­rior turned green.

The app is avail­able only on Ap­ple mo­bile de­vices, not An­droid. Some fea­tures, in­clud­ing an au­dio tour, will be avail­able only on lo­ca­tion.

The foun­da­tion is also launch­ing a three-part pod­cast ex­plor­ing the statue’s his­tory and sym­bol­ism. The pod­cast won’t be limited to Ap­ple’s pod­cast dis­tri­bu­tion chan­nels.

RICHARD DREW — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Statue of Lib­erty Mu­seum is set to open Thurs­day on Lib­erty Is­land in New York.

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