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Liberty Ellis Island Foundation

The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.
17 Battery Place, Suite 232 | New York, NY 10004
212-561-4588 |


The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation is a non-profit that collaborates with the National Park Service to care for these beloved monuments in one of America’s most successful public-private partnerships.

In 1982, President Ronald Reagan asked Lee Iacocca, then Chairman of Chrysler Corporation, to head a private-sector, philanthropic effort to oversee the restoration and preservation of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The American people responded enthusiastically, and continue to do so 40+ years later, donating hundreds of millions of dollars to support the Foundation’s mission. No government funds have been used by the Foundation for restoration and preservation projects at these national monuments.

The Foundation has been involved with hundreds of projects, including restoring the Statue of Liberty and constructing the Statue of Liberty Museum; restoring multiple buildings on Ellis Island and creating the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration; establishing the American Immigrant Wall of Honor; developing the 65-million-record Ellis Island Passenger Database; and maintaining museum exhibits.



The Statue of Liberty Restoration (1982-1986) - In time for the Statue’s 100th birthday, the Foundation restored the Statue, upgraded Liberty Island, provided funding for the National Park Service’s rehabilitation of the ferry embarkation at Castle Clinton, and created a Statue of Liberty museum. The Foundation planned the 1986 “Liberty Weekend” four-day event over the July 4th holiday that was attended by President Reagan and President Mitterrand of France and was broadcast to 1.5 billion people around the world.


Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty

The original Statue of Liberty Museum was housed in the monument’s pedestal, but post-9/11 security modifications meant a majority of Liberty Island’s 4.3 million annual visitors were unable to access the exhibits. The Foundation collaborated with the National Park Service to create a new museum that would be accessible to every visitor.

Opened in 2019, the 26,000-square-foot museum features three gallery spaces, each meant to engage, inspire, and educate visitors about Lady Liberty in thought-provoking ways. The Immersive Theater is a multimedia, three-part short film offering visitors a solid primer on the Statue’s origins, creation, and global relevance throughout the centuries. The Engagement Gallery delves into greater detail sharing samples of Bartholdi’s early designs and replicating his Paris workshop. Lady Liberty’s role in pop culture is also explored in this area of the museum. The Inspiration Gallery is where visitors are invited to reflect on what they’ve learned. The Becoming Liberty digital experience allows guests to document their visit with a self-portrait and a selection of other images and concepts that resonate. The museum experience culminates with an up-close view of Liberty’s most iconic symbol – her original torch – held high for nearly 100 years and still a touchstone of the light Liberty shines from generation to generation.


Ellis Island
Statue of Liberty - Photo Copyright: Jordan Seavey
Painting by Carol Wallace

The Ellis Island Restoration (1985-1990) – The Ellis Island project was the largest historic restoration in U.S. history. The Main Immigration Building was restored to look as it did during the height of immigration processing in 1918-1924. The restored Ellis Island and its world-class Immigration Museum opened in September 1990 and to date have received 50+ million visitors.

Photo Courtesy of the National Park Service
Photo Courtesy of the National Park Service
The Foundation continued to restore buildings and expand the museum to include galleries devoted to the stories of pre- and post-Ellis immigration. By 2015, the museum had been renamed “Ellis Island: The National Museum of Immigration” to reflect the broader content.

The American Immigrant Wall of Honor, located on the grounds of Ellis Island in the shadow of the museum and overlooking the Lower Manhattan skyline, celebrates our nation’s immigration history. Open to immigrants of all eras, even up to the present day, the Wall of Honor is a unique way of commemorating your family and the sacrifices made to pursue the American Dream. Unveiled in 1988 to support the Ellis Island restoration project, the Wall of Honor is home to more than 775,000 names – each representing a personal journey. The Foundation is expanding the Wall of Honor so more families can celebrate their immigration stories.

In 2001, the Foundation unveiled The American Family Immigration History Center, a database of 65 million arrival records for people who entered the United States through the Port of New York from 1892-1954. The database, also available for free on the Foundation’s website, includes reproductions of ship passenger manifests and images of the 900+ ships that brought immigrants to this country. Roughly 30% of all Americans can trace their roots back to passengers included in these arrival records, making the database an essential stop on your genealogical journey.


Statue of Liberty
Ellis Island Ship Manifest

The Statue of Liberty is the nation's most iconic monument, a symbol of hope to millions of immigrants on their way to Ellis Island. Tourists can visit both attractions via a ferry operated by Statue City Cruises that meets passengers at Battery Park or Liberty State Park (NJ) and runs continuous loops throughout the day.

When arriving on Liberty Island visitors can enjoy views of both the monument and the New York City skyline at no charge. You can also purchase tickets to access the pedestal or crown, although crown passes sell out at least six months in advance*. The Statue of Liberty Museum and comprehensive audio tours (available in 12 languages) are included with each ferry ticket.

Statue of Liberty
Photo Courtesy of Homblower

*As of this writing, the Statue’s crown is not open to the public. Visit the National Park Service website for updates.

The journey to Ellis Island includes the world-class National Museum of Immigration Museum, The American Immigrant Wall of Honor, and the America Family Immigration History Center. A century since its peak years of immigration, Ellis Island is one of the most popular attractions operated by the National Park Service.

Ellis Island is an architectural masterpiece that once served as the main immigration processing center and hospital from 1892 to 1954.

Inside are poignant exhibits, with walls of photos, documents, and personal stories that capture defining moments in American history, one person at a time. Tourists should plan at least a half-day to enjoy sightseeing at both attractions, or if pressed for time consider hopping aboard the ferry and using the ride to get phenomenal views of these historic landmarks from many angles.

Access to the National Museum of Immigration and a comprehensive audio tour (available in 12 languages) is included with each ferry ticket. There is a nominal fee to conduct research at the American Family Immigration History Center. The fee helps support The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation.



Immersive Theater

The sweeping immersive film enables visitors of all ages to experience a cinematic fly-through inside the monument from pedestal to crown, while sharing the rich story of the Statue, from its origins in France to its present day cultural significance. To create the film, titled “Liberty Enlightening the World,” two drones equipped with special 8K resolution cameras were used to film the Statue, generating stunning footage perfect for the theater’s 1,576-square-feet curved projection screen.

Liberty Vista

Statue of Liberty
Credit: Getty, courtesy of the National Park Service

Featuring a green room with plants native to Liberty Island, the Liberty Vista offers breathtaking views of the Statue of Liberty and the New York City skyline. The ideal photo op!

Photo credit: Getty, courtesy of the National Park Service

Treasures From Home

The generosity of America's immigrants and their children created this exhibit, a collection of artifacts donated to the National Park Service by families who came to the United States during the peak immigration years of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Located in the east wing on the third floor of the museum, the items displayed here are indeed treasures from home, cherished belongings that immigrants carried with them from the old country to the new.

Most arrivals brought a mix of the functional and the familiar: Bibles and prayer books, family documents, handmade linens, crockery, and other possessions that represent centuries-old cultures and traditions. The carefully chosen items lend insight into how immigrants prepared for life in an unknown land, what they expected to find here, and what hopes they had for the future.

Statue of Liberty Painting

The Ellis Island Registry Room (aka The Great Hall)

Today, the enormous arched windows and immense open spaces of the Registry Room evoke a feeling of grandeur. For the immigrants, however, the room was often a loud, confusing and frightening place. Nearly every day, for over two decades (1900-1924), the Registry Room was filled with new arrivals waiting to be inspected and registered by Immigration Service officers. On many days, over 5,000 people would file through the space. It was here that immigrants underwent medical and legal examinations.

Kissing Post

At the foot of the stairs leading from the Great Hall is an area that became known as “the kissing post.” It got that nickname because it is where family and friends waited for their loved ones. After months or years apart, they kissed and hugged and shouted with joy and relief. For the immigrants, the long journey was finally over. They were in America.


Unforgotten Films (Created by Aaron Asis w/Green Ghost Studios)

Please Note: Most photos can be enlarged by clicking on them. Click on the enlarged photos to close.

Photo Courtesy of Nils Walter
Photo Courtesy of Nils Walter
Photo Courtesy of the National Park Service
Photo Courtesy of the National Park Service

The feet of the Statue of Liberty arrive on Liberty Island in 1885
The feet of the Statue of Liberty arrive on Liberty Island in 1885
Statue of Liberty under construction in Paris
The Statue of Liberty under construction in Paris

Ellis Island
Ellis Island
Statue of Liberty Museum
The Statue of Liberty Museum

Statue of Liberty
Quote by Emma Lazarus
Ellis Island
Ellis Island

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