New York’s $100 Million Museum Makeover: Worth It or Waste?

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Ellis Island’s Museum is getting a major facelift, and the details are fascinating. Is this $100 million makeover worth it, or is it just a waste of money?

An Iconic Landmark

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Nick Starichenko

The nation’s first federal immigration station opened in 1892, and it’s ready for a touch-up!

A New Beginning

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While the museum is about to get a new lease of life, it is also where 12 million immigrants began their new lives between 1892 and 1954.

A Piece of History

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Named after Welshman Samuel Ellis, who bought the island in 1774, Ellis Island is a famous part of America’s history. It is especially significant for those whose ancestors passed through the immigration station when they first arrived in America.

A Museum to Remember

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The Ellis Island Immigration Museum was first opened in 1990 to replace the American Museum of Immigration on Liberty Island. The museum educates visitors on the experience of the immigrants who passed through the center, and the immigrants themselves.

A National Monument

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Ellis Island is part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and is on the Tentative List to potentially become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A New Chapter

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A project lasting several years will bring the visitor experience up to date and into the modern age. New exhibits and interactive media will transform the space.

A Mammoth Project

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The $100 million refurbishment will involve over 100,000 sq ft of renovated exhibits, storytelling, and flexible space for events and education programs. The building itself measures an impressive 137,000 sq ft.

Millions of Visitors

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Since it opened in 1990, the museum has seen more than 50 million visitors, and this reimagining aims to bring an updated experience to the next 50 million.

A Timeline

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The new museum will feature a timeline throughout the building covering the island’s history from 1880 onwards.

A Personal Experience

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Family members of immigrants can come and see the records of their brave ancestors who migrated to make a better life. The renovation will more than double the number of records available to visitors.

A Huge Reach

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The National Park Service estimates that around 40% of the US population has a family member who came through Ellis Island.

The Wall of Honour

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Renovations on The American Immigrant Wall of Honor will begin in June 2024 (National Immigrant Heritage Month). It was first displayed in 1990 and contains 770 panels with nearly a million inscriptions.

Multi-Lingual Tours

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The ferry ticket will include new self-guided tours in 12 languages, American Sign Language tours, family-friendly tours, and descriptive audio tours for the visually impaired.

21st-Century Amenities

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The museum’s renovation will result in a new seating area, Wi-Fi throughout, and upgrades to restrooms, electrical, and HVAC systems. 

A Strong Foundation

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The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation is an independent nonprofit organization that works with the National Park Service to maintain both monuments. In addition to managing the Museum, it runs education and community programs. 

Get Involved

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / NATNN

The Foundation welcomes donations to support their ongoing work. Anyone who donates $18.86 or more can have their name added to the digital donor wall and the Founders Registry located in the Museum. 

Big Names

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Among the thousands of donors’ names in the Registry, you’ll find beloved American Icon Oprah Winfrey and a donation in honor of Muhammad Ali.

A Moving Experience

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The chance to see where a family member started their American Dream is incredible. Walking through the baggage room and seeing where they would have had a medical check or received documentation connects past and present generations in a unique way.

A Second Makeover

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Pickadook

This isn’t the first time the building containing the museum will undergo drastic renovations. After closing as an immigration center in 1954, it was derelict until work began in 1986, leading to the museum’s opening in 1990.

Open Throughout

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Thanks to a plan to complete the work in phases, the museum will be able to remain open throughout the renovation, which is expected to be completed in 2026.

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The post New York’s $100 Million Museum Makeover: Worth It or Waste? republished on Passing Thru with permission from The Green Voyage.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Lifes_Sunday.

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