New Statue of Liberty Museum to open on Liberty Island Thursday

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A new Statue of Liberty museum will open on Liberty Island Thursday.

The $100 million museum was built with private donations and is being hailed as the biggest upgrade for the island since the statue was restored in the 1980s.

Officials say that previously only 20 percent Liberty Island visitors visited the old Statue of Liberty Museum, which was located in the statue’s pedestal. The officials say that this new museum will tell the story of Lady Liberty like it’s never been told before.

“It’s just as important today, well more important today, than it was in 1886,” says Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Foundation President & CEO Stephen Briganti.

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The new museum features a new home for the original Statue of Liberty torch, three new theaters with 180-degree screens, exhibits on the statue’s history, its construction and its use as a symbol of liberty worldwide.

The museum was built by Boonton-based Phelps Construction. Owner Doug Phelps says that it has been the project of a lifetime.

“I can’t even explain it. It feels amazing to have a thought that someday…my grandkids will be visiting here and my daughter will tell them their grandfather build this. I can’t wrap my head around that yet,” Phelps says.

The museum features copper plating, like the statue, and is built into a small hillside on the island so that visitors can go up to the roof, which is partly covered in a grassy meadow. Part of the museum is also designed to look like the hull of a ship cutting across the waters of the New York Harbor, passing the Statue of Liberty.

“I just hope people feel uplifted and inspired and remember why this place is so important,” says project designer Cameron Ringness.

The new museum will be open to anyone who buys a ferry ticket to get onto Liberty Island.

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