The Statue of Liberty has welcomed visitors and immigrants to New York Harbor since its installation in 1886 and now those who ferry over to see this powerful symbol, a centennial gift from France sculpted in copper by Auguste Bartholdi, can gain extra insight into its history and construction at the new Statue of Liberty Museum. Designed by New York City-based architecture firm FXCollaborative and opened today, the 26,000-square-foot museum features exhibits created by ESI Design, a NYC-based experience design firm, that includes the Statue of Liberty’s original torch as its centerpiece. The copper-and-glass emblem is set inside a 22-foot-tall glass vitrine offering sweeping views of the statue.
“From the start, the Statue of Liberty Museum was conceived as a garden pavilion that would create a joyous and welcoming new experience for all visitors to the island, regardless of age, nationality, or ethnicity,” said Nicholas Garrison, design partner and project director at FXCollaborative. “Engaging the park’s formal plan, and in response to its spectacular setting, the island’s landscape is lifted and merged with the architecture to create memorable public space above, and in the Museum space below 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.”
The Statue of Liberty Museum—which is targeted to achieve LEED Gold certification—is located on the north end of the pedestrian mall and features materials inspired by the UNESCO World Heritage Site island itself. A staircase leading from the statue to a granite roof terrace that offers panoramic views is done in the same “Stony Creek” granite used by Richard Morris Hunt for the pedestal more than 130 years ago, while copper fascia panels, spaced at irregular vertical intervals and made from the same type of recycled copper used in the statue’s 1986 restoration, are intended to patina with age—just as Lady Liberty has.
Inside the museum, the design was inspired by Bartholdi’s workshops in Paris and the Gustave Eiffel-engineered structure for the statue, that along with polished concrete floors and deep charcoal accents give the interiors an industrial feel. The interactive exhibits by ESI Design include an Engagement Gallery filled with artifacts and media detailing the statue’s construction and global impact and the Inspiration Gallery, where visitors can add their self-portrait and inspirational collage to the Becoming Liberty digital mural.
The building, which is intended to look as its been “lifted” from the surrounding park, features green roofs planted with native vegetation and designed to insulate it as well as capture and filter rain water, while the grounds are planted with native grasses designed to act as a habitat for native species and migrating birds.
The museum opened to the public on May 16, following a dedication ceremony presented by The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. and the National Park Service and attended by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and campaign chairperson Diane von Furstenberg.