FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Showcasing Exhibits and Experiences Created by ESI Design, Statue of Liberty Museum Officially Opens to the Public
Leading experience design studio brings Statue of Liberty to life through interactive exhibits and immersive experiences at new museum on Liberty Island.
NEW YORK (MAY 16, 2019) — Immersing visitors in the history, impact, and legacy of one of the world’s most iconic landmarks, the Statue of Liberty Museum on Liberty Island opened its doors to the public today, showcasing new interactive exhibits created by experience design studio ESI Design.
Since its inauguration in 1886, the Statue of Liberty has become one of the world’s most famous attractions, now drawing more than 4.3 million people each year. For many visitors, however, it was not possible to experience the Statue’s full majesty or learn about its fascinating history due to the difficult physical climb to the Statue’s crown, as well as security measures implemented after September 11th.
“While the Statue of Liberty is one of the most recognizable icons in the world, few people ever get to climb to its crown or get to see Lady Liberty’s face up close,” said Edwin Schlossberg, Founder and Principal Designer of ESI Design. “Our goal for the design of the museum experience is to immerse visitors in the grandeur and sweeping history of the Statue, and in the very idea of liberty itself so that they leave with a deeper understanding of what it means to them and the active role required from them to uphold it.”
ESI Design’s multi-disciplinary team, which includes technologists, physical designers, storytellers, artists, and more, used state-of-the-art design and technology to dramatically enhance the overall experience for all visitors to Liberty Island.
According to Emily Webster, ESI Design’s Head of Media Architecture, the museum’s 15,000-square-foot exhibition space was designed in a non-linear way to enable visitors to explore its three galleries in the order of their choosing, helping to spread out the crowds during busy seasons. The museum’s layered exhibit design allows visitors to get a sense of the Statue’s history and the meaning of liberty during a quick visit, while an immersive theater, more than 150 historic artifacts, 29 interactive touchscreens, and tactile encounters provide plenty of material to linger over for deeper visits.
“All of the exhibits were designed to provide a rich visual narrative that can be understood without the need to read detailed texts, making the museum engaging for the 50 percent of visitors who do not speak English,” said Webster.
The museum’s design also caters to visitors of different abilities, and is one of the first U.S. federal museums to do so. Webster added that ESI Design went above and beyond new federal updates to Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which required that museums make interactive experiences accessible to all visitor abilities. Highlights include tools such as navigational keypads at all interactive kiosks that provide an alternative to touch screens, vivid and informative audio descriptions of media content for, and kiosks that are wheelchair accessible.
Highlights of the exhibits and visitor experience include:
Welcome Area: Upon their arrival, visitors are greeted by a lifesize supergraphic of Lady Liberty’s face and a sculptural mural featuring 50 stars, each honoring a significant museum donor. Five touchscreens allow visitors to watch testimonials from donors about their personal connection to the Statue. Anyone who made a minimum donation of $18.86 can also search for their own name in the Digital Donor Directory.
Immersive Theater: A dramatic multimedia experience lasting 10 minutes surrounds visitors in the story of the Statue and the ideals it represents. The sweeping immersive film enables visitors of all ages to experience a cinematic flythrough 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 of Novawall curved projection screen.
Engagement Gallery: Visitors encounter multi-sensory exhibits that bring to life the Statue’s construction, history, and global impact using artifacts, theatrical soundscapes, projection mapping over large-scale graphics, and interactive media. A series of audiovisual elements evoke the feeling of being in sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi’s studio, allowing guests to see the construction process from a small plaster model through hundreds of copper sheets pounded on massive negative molds to a full-sized replica of the foot that visitors can touch. In one interactive exhibit, visitors “flip through” a sketchbook of Bartholdi’s designs, using their fingers to “turn” the page. The Statue in Popular Culture exhibit utilizes touch screens powered by dynamic applications and RealMotion servers to showcase the Statue’s depiction throughout history in advertising, art, entertainment and protest posters. Raising Liberty and Opening Ceremony explore the history of fundraising for the statue and its pedestal, as well as the celebration of Liberty’s arrival in the U.S. from France.
Inspiration Gallery: Visitors reflect on what they have experienced in the museum and are invited to use one of 10 two-sided kiosks to document their visit by adding a self-portrait and collage of inspirational images in real-time to an ever-growing experience called Becoming Liberty. This 40-foot digital mosaic displays compelling data visualizations that provide a snapshot of how participants view liberty in the world today. Visitors can receive a souvenir email with their self-portrait commemorating their visit. The tour culminates with an up-close view of Liberty’s most iconic symbol – her original torch – providing a final contemplative moment.
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. The museum was designed by architecture firm FXCollaborative, with exhibits created by experience design firm ESI Design. The structure was built by Phelps Construction Group. SBI Consultants served as the owner’s representative coordinating activities among all stakeholders.
For more information about the Statue of Liberty Museum or visiting Liberty Island go to statueoflibertymuseum.org and follow the Foundation on social media at Facebook.com/StatueEllisFdn, Twitter @StatueEllisFdn, and Instagram @StatueEllisFdn.
About The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc
The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit organization established in 1982 to raise funds for and oversee the historic restoration and preservation of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. For more than 35 years the Foundation has collaborated with the U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service in what has become one of the most successful public-private partnership in U.S. history, having raised hundreds of millions of dollars. In addition to restoring the monuments, the Foundation created museums on both islands, The American Immigrant Wall of Honor®, the American Family Immigration History Center® and The Peopling of America Center®, which in 2015 transformed the museum on Ellis Island into the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. The Foundation oversaw the fundraising and construction of the new Statue of Liberty Museum which opened in May 2019. The organization’s endowment has funded over 200 projects that support these national treasures.
About ESI Design
ESI Design transforms places into dynamic experiences that engage audiences, solve complex challenges, and deliver lasting results. From our roots reinventing the Brooklyn Children’s Museum into one of the country’s first interactive museums, ESI Design has defined the field of experience design for over forty years, fundamentally changing how people connect with brands, organizations, cultural institutions and, most importantly, each other. A collaborative, in-house team of designers, strategists, storytellers, technologists, artists, and problem-solvers work with you from day one, until it’s done. ESI Design seamlessly weaves the physical and digital worlds together to create immersive experiences with enduring impact. Recent clients include eBay, the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, Comcast, PNC Bank, Beacon Capital, and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate. For more information, connect with ESI Design: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Vimeo, YouTube and Instagram. (www.esidesign.com)