France gifted the United States the Statue of Liberty in 1886 as a symbol of the country’s freedom, and over 100 years later people remain entranced with the iconic figure. While the Statue of Liberty has enjoyed record-setting attendance of up to 27,000 visitors a day and over 4.3 million annually—due to security restrictions imposed following 9/11, an event that attacked the very freedom Lady Liberty represents—only 15 percent of visitors can enter and fully interact with the celebrated Statue.
Currently there isn’t an educational component or museum experience for the majority of school groups and visitors from around the world.
As a solution, and at the request of the National Park Service under the U.S. Department of Interior, The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation is developing a freestanding museum on Liberty Island that will enable universal access and give all visitors a more meaningful experience and deeper understanding of Lady Liberty’s history and what she stands for, without restrictive security clearances.
In support of the museum project, The Coca-Cola Foundation has granted The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation $2 million to be distributed from 2016 through 2020.
“Our projects and their maintenance depend on contributions from companies, organizations and individuals. We greatly appreciate the grant from Coca-Cola, a long-time supporter of ours,” said Stephen A. Briganti, President & CEO, The Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation. “This project has great significance because for the first time since September 11, 2001, every visitor will have the opportunity to experience the museum.”
The new museum will engage visitors through the display and interpretation of a vast collection of historic and cultural artifacts. Sustainable design plans envision a glass-walled structure combining the island setting and relationship to the Statue in a functional, open environment, with a green, visitor-friendly roof and geothermal systems. The structure will be an extension of the park, with new seating, climbing and viewing spaces of the Statue, the Plaza and the city skyline.
Coca-Cola is a practiced patron of the Statue of Liberty, having contributed $5 million to her restoration in 1984, and $1 million to the Peopling of America Center, which is located on Ellis Island and explores immigration to America, in 2011.