A full-scale copper replica of Lady Liberty’s face is the first thing that greets visitors to the museum in the base of the Statue of Liberty.
But the face that gives visitors a chance to get up close with an aspect of the statue that otherwise looms out of reach is available to only the limited number of visitors with tickets to the pedestal or the crown.
The National Park Service wants to change that, and has proposed building a larger museum on Liberty Island that would be available to all 4 million annual visitors to the site, not just the 20 percent who have statue tickets.
“We’d like to make the visit as enriching as possible,” said John Piltzecker, superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island, who earlier this month announced the opening of public comment on the idea.
The next step would be working with a private foundation to raise money for the planned 20,000-square-foot museum, since no federal dollars would be used.
The park service has a location in mind, on the northwest side of the island, and has started thinking about what would go in it.
One possibility would be the original torch, which currently greets visitors in the pedestal lobby since it was removed in 1984. The material that’s in the current museum, which covers the history of the statue as well as how it was made, would also make the move. That would include the giant face, as well as a replica of the statue’s foot, and exhibits looking at the models and molds used to create Lady Liberty, who was a gift from France for the American centennial.
Eileen Gormley, visiting from Princeton, N.J., said having access to the museum was important. “This part here is very important and very informative and to just walk up and look at it, you don’t get any of the background and history.”
Michael Miller of California agreed. “It brings it to life,” he said. “It helps to make the seeing of the image itself more meaningful.”