The new family-friendly Statue of Liberty Museum is now open where visitors get to explore the history of the Statue of Liberty and consider the role of liberty in their world today.
Laura Gunther, DUMBO mom and Associate Director, Experiential Graphic Design at ESI Design which curated the exhibit of the museum shares her role on the project and kid-friendly visitor tips. Throughout the museum, ESI Design used interactive media to tell the cultural story of Liberty and bring the Statue’s history to life. The museum journey begins in the Immersive Theater with a film that takes visitors on a cinematic fly through inside the monument and provides an overview of the story of the Statue, from its origins to present day.
The Engagement Gallery allows visitors to delve into stories about the Statue’s construction, history, and global impact through artifacts, media, and interactive experiences. The museum’s Inspiration Gallery where visitors consider their own roles in liberty’s future by adding their self-portrait and collage of inspirational images to the ever-growing Becoming Liberty digital mural.
Laura’s project role: As the graphic designer on this project, it was my job to consider the look and feel of all printed graphics, from the informative panels to the large wall graphics to the building signage and museum logo.
Why is the museum great for families?
- The Statue of Liberty Museum tells the story of an international icon that kids around the world will recognize. Through the museum, you can experience the thrill of being up close to The Statue of Liberty and see her size and scale in a way that hasn’t been possible before.
- The museum is intentionally very visual and experiential, rather than text-heavy, which is great for kids.
- The museum experience begins with an immersive film which tells the story of the Statue in three acts, including one-of-a-kind drone footage inside and flying around the Statue.
- You can see firsthand the enormous scale of the Statue and touch full-scale copper models of her face and foot.
- There are an abundance of original artifacts including the Statue’s original torch, and even a LEGO version of the Statue.
- The roof of the museum has a large deck as well as tiered amphitheater-like seating with amazing views of the Statue and city. A great place for a break or picnic!
- There are lots of photo opportunities – from the Becoming Liberty interactive to the full-scale models and original torch, to Lady Liberty herself.
- In addition to all of the graphics and interactives, there’s a free audio tour available in 13 languages. Parents have a wealth of information to help them answer the enormous amount of questions that kids have.
Your tips for families visiting the museum:
- The best way to get to the Statue of Liberty ferry from DUMBO is to take the Brooklyn-bound F to Jay St. Metrotech and switch to the Manhattan-bound R to Whitehall station. Follow signs to the Staten Island Ferry terminal, which is adjacent to Battery Park, and then make your way to Castle Clinton where you will see the signs for Statue Cruises for your trip to Liberty Island.
- If you want to get the most of the museum, go early. The lines for the ferries get long quickly and there’s lots to see and do on Liberty Island, and also Ellis Island, which is the second stop. The good news is hundreds of people can fit on each boat and the boats leave every 20 minutes. So lines appear more daunting than they are.
- There’s a cafe on the island which serves standard fare (burgers, sandwiches, salads, sushi, etc.) I’d recommend bringing a picnic lunch (bring the food in a bag, coolers are not allowed). There is some seating built into the building of the new museum that would be a perfect spot, with a lovely view of the harbor, city and the Statue. There’s also a concession stand on every ferry with food, drinks, and souvenirs.
- Access to the island requires going through airport style security, more about that here.
- If you want to go to the Statue’s pedestal or up to her crown, you need to reserve special tickets months in advance, especially in the busy summer months. The pedestal is ADA friendly, but the crown requires climbing up a very tight set of stairs. You can see the different ticket types here.
- The museum offers a variety of experiences for a wide range of ages, but is probably best suited for 5 years and up.
Tell us about your life in DUMBO, what you love about DUMBO, what needs improvement and how DUMBO inspired your work at the museum:
- I’ve lived on Plymouth Street in DUMBO for 18 years and have seen many changes to the neighborhood over that time.
- I have a boy who is 8 and a daughter who is 5 years old, and they had the opportunity to see the Statue of Liberty Museum just before it opened to the public. They thoroughly enjoyed the museum experience especially climbing on the foot and seeing their faces up on the Becoming Liberty media wall. They also loved wearing their Statue of Liberty foam crown souvenirs and have continued to wear them at home!
- The thing I love most about living in DUMBO is being so close to the East River. It allows me to walk over one of two bridges to Manhattan, to enjoy Brooklyn Bridge Park, to take ferry rides with my kids, and to have great views of fireworks on the 4th of July from my rooftop. I think of the East River as my connection to NYC, the New York Harbor, Long Island Sound and the world beyond.
- DUMBO needs more infrastructure. Thousands of people have moved to our neighborhood over the past twenty years, yet next to nothing has changed or been added for mass transit options. A few bus lines have extended their routes to include DUMBO, but the F train is more and more burdened. In particular I’m concerned about the York Street stop with its one exit becoming a serious safety hazard. Additionally, street parking is nearly impossible with all of the construction, movie crews, and street cleaning rules. I wish major developers were required to help improve infrastructure in order to build in DUMBO.
- DUMBO inspired me in my work with the Statue of Liberty Museum in the sense that it’s a historic place with a lot of untold stories. The building I live in was a factory built around the same time as the Statue of Liberty. As they put the statue together in Bartholdi’s workshop in Paris, it rose out of the rooftop and towered over the streets of the neighborhood. I like to imagine if someone in the late 1800s had built a massive statue in a DUMBO warehouse what a cool experience that would have been to see it growing taller and taller.
The new 26,000-square-foot Statue of Liberty Museum with 3 galleries is free and open to the public. The hours of the museum, are the same as the hours for visiting Liberty Island. Ferry tickets to Liberty and Ellis islands cost $18 for adults, $14 for seniors and $9 for children ages 4 to 12. They can be purchased here.