Tag Archives: Ellis Island Museum

2012 Ellis Island Family Heritage Awardees Announced


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The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation has announced the recipients of its annual Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards, which honor distinguished Americans who trace their ancestry through Ellis Island, and the B.C. Forbes Peopling of America Award recognizing individuals who themselves immigrated to America. The Awards will be presented on April 19th at a ceremony to be held in the historic Great Hall on Ellis Island. The 2012 honorees are:

Angela Lansbury – The B.C. Forbes Peopling of America Award – Entertainment

This London-born actress, who returns to Broadway this year in Gore Vidal’s The Best Man, began her ascendancy up the ranks of American entertainment ladder shortly after her family evacuated to New York City in 1940, just days before the London blitz. Her first of over 50 films, Gaslight, won her an Oscar nomination. Since then, she has been a star of film, stage and television for seven decades, garnering her five Tonys, six Golden Globes, three Oscar nominations, and over 15 Emmy nominations. In 1994, Queen Elizabeth II appointed her Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to the dramatic arts. She is also a recipient of the National Medal of Arts and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2000. Lansbury became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1951.

Richard Meier – Ellis Island Family Heritage Award – The Arts/Architecture

Born in Newark, New Jersey, Richard Meier is a Pritzker Prize-winning architect who designed the Getty Center in Los Angeles. His distinct minimalist style of has garnered him 10 honorary degrees, numerous design awards as well as the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 1997. He has taught at many universities including Princeton, Harvard and UCLA. With current projects underway in Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America and his hometown, he serves on the Board of Directors of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and the American Academy in Rome. His maternal grandfather – a leather tannery owner – Joseph Kaltenbacher, emigrated from Germany through Ellis Island in 1896.

Anthony “Tony” La Russa, Jr. – Ellis Island Family Heritage Award – Sports

Tony La Russa was born in Tampa, Florida, where his paternal grandparents had settled after arriving from Sicily thru Ellis Island in 1906. As an infielder, La Russa began his career with the Kansas City Athletics in 1963. Turning to managing in 1979, he became one of the longest tenured managers in the history of Major League Baseball. He spent 32 years at the helm of the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, and St. Louis Cardinals, where he topped the Cards’ managerial win list with 1,408 victories. He ranks third in all-time major league wins by a manager, holding six league championships and three World Series titles, most recently with the Cardinals in 2011. A staunch advocate for animal rescue, La Russa, his wife Elaine and their daughters founded ARF (Animal Rescue Foundation) in 1991, which aids homeless and abandoned animals and uses them to help people in need.

The ceremony will be hosted by journalist Meredith Vieira and will mark the 120th anniversary of the opening of Ellis Island on New Year’s Day 1892. Until it closed in 1954, Ellis would process 17 million immigrants. Forty percent of Americans today can trace their roots to an ancestor who was among them.

Throughout its 10 year history, the Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards have recognized more than 40 individuals, among them Dr. Madeleine Albright, Irving Berlin, Yogi Berra, Lee Iacocca, Jerry Seinfeld, Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski, Mary Higgins Clark, General Colin Powell, Martin Scorsese, and Bruce Springsteen.

More information can be found online.

Statue of Liberty Book Celebrates 125 Years


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A new book written in celebration of the Statue of Liberty’s 125th birthday (October 28, 2011) has been published to support projects of The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. The Statue of Liberty: A Symbol of Hope and Freedom for 125 Years, is a commemorative, photo-and-fact-filled journal that spans the statue’s beginnings as an idea of French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, to becoming a symbol of welcome to millions of immigrants, her quirky role in American pop culture, and the historic 1986 restoration.

The book is offered for $9.99 through the Ellis Island online gift shop. Proceeds support the The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers.

Ellis Island Museum Unveils New Galleries


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The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation and the National Park Service have opened the first phase of the Peopling of America Center, a major expansion of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, which will explore arrivals before the Ellis Island Era. This 10,000 square foot experience focuses on the history of immigration from the Colonial Era to the opening of Ellis Island in 1892.

Interpretative graphics and poignant audio stories tell first-hand accounts of the immigrant’s journey—from making the trip and arriving in the United States to their struggle and survival after they arrived and efforts to build communities and ultimately a nation.

“Until now, our exhibits have centered on the years when Ellis Island was open,” said Stephen A. Briganti, the Foundation’s President and CEO. “Of course the history of migration to America goes back to our nation’s beginnings right up to today, so there were many people whose stories weren’t told. The Peopling of America Center will fill an enormous gap in America’s understanding of its past, present, and future.”

Also recently unveiled was the American Flag of Faces, a large interactive video installation filled with a montage of images submitted by individuals of their families, their ancestors, or even themselves which illustrates the ever-changing American mosaic. A living exhibit, Flag of Faces accepts photo submissions and can also be viewed at www.FlagofFaces.org.

The Center’s second phase, which will open in Spring 2013, will present a series of interactive multi-media exhibits that focus on the immigration experience from the closing of Ellis Island in 1954 to the present day, including a dynamic radiant globe that illustrates migration patterns throughout human history. The Peopling of America Center was designed by ESI Design and fabricated by Hadley Exhibits, Inc.

Alcatraz Island Exhibit at Ellis Island Museum


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Every year only 1.5 million people can visit Alcatraz Island, but the demand to see the historical landmark is twice that. New Yorkers now have the chance to see what “The Rock” was like with the opening of Alcatraz: Life on The Rock, a traveling exhibit that tells the legendary story of Alcatraz Island, at the Liberty National Monument’s Ellis Island Museum of Immigration. The 2,800 square-foot modular exhibit of artifacts and interactive displays runs until Jan. 12, 2012 on the third floor of the Grand Hall.

Created by Alcatraz Cruises in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS), the 2,800 square-foot modular exhibit features authentic artifacts and recreated areas of the prison. Visitors enter the exhibit through a Civil War Sally Port to a touchable model of the island and can then explore four eras of the island’s history: “Preserving the Rock,” “Strength: The Native American Occupation,” “Life on the Inside,” and “Military History.” Murals, video clips and memorabilia help bring to life other historical elements of the island such as its role as a military prison, the Native American occupation of 1969–71, Alcatraz’s depiction in pop culture and the island’s lush flora and fauna. Visitors can also get an inside look at the infamous federal prison, operated from 1934–1963.

Guests can visually experience life inside the prison by looking through a mock tunnel, similar to the one dug by prisoners attempting escape, and by searching for Civil War era etchings in a recreated prison wall. The exhibit features several rare, authentic artifacts, including an original letter written by Robert “Birdman” Stroud, a blood-smeared baseball from the Alcatraz exercise yard, a butter knife turned weapon and a cookbook that the Alcatraz Women’s Club sold to families on the island.

Admission is included with all Statue Cruises tickets to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and is only accessible by ferry during operating hours.

To purchase tickets, visit www.statuecruises.com. Museums interested in booking the Alcatraz: Life on the Rock exhibit can learn more by calling Denise Rasmussen at (415) 438-8320.

Travel Channel to Feature Ellis Island Museum


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Travel Channel’s new series, Mysteries at the Museum, will be featuring New York tonight at 9 EST. The show will be highlighting the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

The episode will feature literacy tests given to all new arrivals at Ellis Island. In theory the test should have prevented thousands of poor, illiterate immigrants from gaining entry into the U.S., but what many immigrants lacked in literacy, they made up for in cunning and guile. How could they possibly have beat the test that was designed to keep them out of America?

Ellis Island Museum Celebrates 20 Years


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September marks the 20th anniversary of the historic restoration of Ellis Island and the opening of its Immigration Museum on September 10, 1990, which was funded by the American people through The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. This world class museum has quickly become one of the most popular tourist destinations in New York City, welcoming over 35 million visitors to date.

Just half a mile from the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, the museum’s exhibits highlight the growth of America during the peak immigration years of 1880-1924. The galleries illustrate the Ellis Island immigrant reception process, the immigrants’ arrival and settlement throughout the United States and feature their “Treasures From Home” – the cherished personal objects, photographs and papers they brought with them from their homelands. And the American Immigrant Wall of Honor celebrates the immigrant experience with the inscription of the names of over 700,000 individuals and families who have been honored by their descendants.

The Ellis Island Oral History Archive, created by the Foundation, contains the reminiscences of over 1700 individuals who either immigrated through or worked at Ellis Island during its heyday as the country’s largest immigration processing center. Excerpts from these oral histories are incorporated throughout the museum’s popular audio tour, which allows visitors to vividly relive the immigrant experience as if they were the “new arrival.”

The American Family Immigration History Center, which opened in 2001, offers easy access to the arrival records of more than 25 million immigrants, travelers and crewmembers who entered through the Port of New York and Ellis Island between 1892-1924, and is also available online at www.ellisisland.org.

The restoration of Ellis Island—the largest in U. S. history—began in 1984 as the second part of a multi-million dollar project by the Foundation, in partnership with the National Park Service/U.S. Department of the Interior, which included the Centennial restoration of the Statue of Liberty in 1986. All funds came from private donations, with more than 20 million Americans contributing to the cause.

The Museum is currently undergoing a $20 million expansion to be called The Peopling of America Center. Designed by ESI Design, this exciting new Center will enlarge the story currently told of the Ellis Island Era (1892-1954) to include the entire panorama of the American immigration experience, with exhibits dedicated to those who arrived before Ellis as well as those who arrived after it closed, right up to the present. “The Foundation is proud of what it has accomplished over the last 28 years with the support of the American people in raising over $550 million for the ongoing restoration and preservation of these two most beloved monuments to freedom and opportunity,” said Stephen A. Briganti, President and CEO of The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. “With the Peopling of America Center scheduled to open in 2012, we will bring the ever-growing story of the populating of America to life, making the Ellis Island Museum both more relevant and a truly living testament to this Nation of Immigrants.”

For more information on the Ellis Island Immigration Museum visit www.ellisisland.org.