On Thursday morning, the Statue of Liberty’s original torch was moved into its new home within the forthcoming Statue of Liberty Museum, where it be housed at the Inspiration Gallery and will serve as the centerpiece of the 26,000-square-foot museum.
The 3,600-pound original copper and amber glass torch, designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, was removed from Lady Liberty’s outstretched hand in 1984 and replaced with a replica as part of the statue’s centennial restoration project. Its new location will give more visitors the opportunity to get an up-close view the torch from both inside and outside of the museum.
“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,” said Stephen Briganti, President and CEO of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation.
The torch relocation and the construction of the museum is part of a $100 million project to Liberty Island. The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation raised (and is still raising) funds for the project and entrusted Phelps Construction Group, who is also building the FX Collaborative-designed museum, to move the 16-foot torch to its new home. ESI Designs was tapped to design the museum’s various exhibits, including the Inspiration Gallery. “Although it is not one of the most difficult things we have ever moved, it’s certainly the most important,” said the construction group’s president, Douglas Phelps. The torch’s flame had to be separated from its base in order for it to fit through the museum’s doors.
The museum topped out last December and is scheduled to open to the public in May 2019. It will be free to all visitors with the purchase of a ferry ticket to Liberty and Ellis Islands.