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Statue of Liberty's Original Torch Moves to Museum

November 15th, 2018


Bartholdi's Torch Had Been Housed Inside the Monument's Pedestal Since the Statue's Centennial Restoration in 1980s 

Today, the Statue of Liberty’s original torch moved into its new home inside the new Statue of Liberty Museum currently being built on Liberty Island. For nearly 100 years, the gold and copper marvel served as a beacon of freedom in the outstretched hand of Lady Liberty. In 1984, as part of the Statue’s centennial restoration project, the torch was removed from atop the monument and placed on display inside the Statue of Liberty Monument’s pedestal. In November 1985, a replica of Bartholdi's original design was installed onto the Statue and formally dedicated during the July 4, 1986, Liberty Weekend centennial celebration. Led by the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation and the U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, a team of engineers disassembled the torch and relocated it from the monument’s pedestal across Liberty Island to the new museum site. A special hydraulically stabilized transporter vehicle took the torch 470 feet across the island before the torch was lifted by crane into the new museum.

“The original torch is a beautiful object of art and exemplifies the American ideals of freedom and democracy - a true national treasure cared for by the National Park Service,” said John Piltzecker, Superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island. “That’s why I’m so pleased that The Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Foundation’s fundraising campaign has allowed us to relocate it to a more fitting place where all of our visitors, from across the nation and from around the world, will always be able to see it and be inspired by it.”

The 3,600-pound original torch will be the centerpiece of the new Statue of Liberty Museum, a 26,000-square-foot museum that will celebrate the Statue of Liberty’s history, influence, and legacy in the world. Visitors will get an up-close view of the iconic symbol in its new home in the Inspiration Gallery, which features floor-to-ceiling glass panels overlooking the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan skyline. The museum will be free to visitors with the purchase of a ferry ticket to visit Liberty and Ellis Islands and is expected to open to the public in May 2019.

“For nearly a century, the Statue of Liberty’s original torch was viewed by millions of immigrants as they came to America in search of better lives. Unfortunately, today only one-fifth of the visitors who come to Liberty Island can enter the monument and see the original torch in person,” said Stephen Briganti, President and CEO of The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. “We’re thrilled to be able to give all guests to Liberty Island the opportunity to see this unparalleled piece of American and world history firsthand, whether from within or outside of the museum.”

The Statue of Liberty Museum was designed by architecture firm FXCollaborative with exhibits created by experience design firm ESI Design. The structure is being built by Phelps Construction Group, which also moved the original torch to the new museum site.

“The moving of the torch from the pedestal into the museum represents a signification milestone in this project,” said Douglas Phelps, President of Phelps Construction Group. “We are honored to have been entrusted by the Foundation and the National Park Service to move this national treasure and although it is not one of the most difficult things we have ever moved, it is certainly the most important.” 

About the Statue of Liberty National Monument

“The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World” was a gift of friendship from the people of France to the United States and is recognized as a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886, and designated as a National Monument by Presidential Proclamation in 1924. Its purpose under the National Park System is to preserve, protect, and interpret as a national and international symbol of freedom and migration and to promote understanding, reflection, and discussion about the meanings of liberty and opportunity. 

About The Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation

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 the most successful public-private partnership in U.S. history, having raised nearly $1 billion. 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 is now overseeing the fundraising and construction of the new Statue of Liberty Museum scheduled to open in 2019. The organization’s endowment has funded over 200 projects that support these national treasures.

About Phelps Construction Group

Phelps Construction Group, headquartered in Boonton, NJ, provides pre-construction, construction management and design-build services. The firm has completed a wide range of major commercial, industrial and institutional projects since its founding in 2007, including the historic restoration and expansion of the Peopling of America Center® for the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. in 2015. More recently, they've completed the The Grammy Museum Experience™ at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.


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