Lonely Planet Writer

Inside NYC's brand new Statue of Liberty Museum

She is an icon, a leviathan symbol of freedom and one of the most recognisable figures around the world, and now, Lady Liberty has her own museum. Open on Liberty Island, the museum was highly anticipated, and was chosen as one of Lonely Planet's best new openings for 2019's Best in Travel. It includes special educational galleries and an immersive theatre, as well as the statue’s original torch that was designed in 1874.

A rendering of the Statue of Liberty Museum on Liberty Island
The museum has been designed to be educational, interactive and sustainable. Image by FXCollaborative

Called the Statue of Liberty Museum, the 26,000 sq ft attraction boasts three interactive gallery spaces offering digital guided tours in 13 different languages. Sign language tours are also available through the use of iPads, while an Audio Descriptive tour has been created for visitors with impaired vision, giving detailed dimensions and physical explanation as well as readings of text panels in the exhibit galleries.

The Immersive Theater features eight to ten-minute multimedia shows that tell visitors the story of the statue and the ideals she represents. It includes a virtual fly-through, taking viewers to the top of the statue to recreate the interior views and sounds. One of the movies entitled Liberty Enlightening the World begins with a scenic view of the New York Harbor in the 1870s before the Statue of Liberty graced the skyline and progresses through the story of how and why the Statue was created and given as a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States.

One of the museum’s most impressive inclusions is the statue’s original torch, envisioned by sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi and delivered to America in 1885. The torch underwent several stylistic and structural changes over its long lifetime before eventually being replaced by a new one in 1984. The original was housed in the sculpture’s pedestal museum before being moved to its brand new home inside the museum. It also includes an 850 sq ft wall graphic that features a quote by Statue of Liberty sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi as well as a full-scale image of the statue’s face.

The original statue of liberty torch inside the new Statue of Liberty Museum.
The original torch dates back to 1885 and is on display inside the museum now. Image by Drew Angerer/ Getty Images

“We are thrilled that every visitor who now comes to Liberty Island has the opportunity to have a full museum experience, where they can learn about Lady Liberty’s history and continued relevance in today’s world,” said Stephen Briganti, President & CEO of The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. “Seeing people’s reactions, especially when they encounter the Statue’s original torch up-close, has been very rewarding.”

Statue of Liberty memorabilia inside the newly opened museum.
Inside the Statue of Liberty Museum on Liberty Island. Image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The Statue of Liberty Museum was conceived with sustainability in mind. The roof is planted with native meadow grasses and offers visitors sweeping, panoramic views of Lady Liberty, lower Manhattan, and all of New York Harbor, and has been designed to conserve energy and water.

Access to the museum is free with the purchase of a ferry ticket to Liberty and Ellis Islands, with tickets starting at $18.50 for adults, $14 for seniors, and $9 for children aged four to twelve. The new museum is part of a $100 million Liberty Island-wide beautification effort that’s being funded by the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. Tickets include access to the ground of Liberty Island and Ellis Island.

More information is available at the official Statue of Liberty Ellis Foundation website.