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  HOME | Arts & Entertainment

Original Torch Is Centerpiece of Statue of Liberty Museum

NEW YORK – The original torch of the Statue of Liberty, replaced 33 years ago due of its deterioration, shines again in the new museum at the foot of Lady Liberty in New York Harbor, set to open to the public this week.

The museum has gathered within its walls the original models and some of the replicas used to construct “The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World,” as well as explanations of the construction process and the history of how the famous New York symbol came to be.

The tour begins with a three-part video that recounts the original idea of French politician Eduardo Laboulaye, who conceived France’s gift to the United States on the centennial of its independence, and its creation by sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi and engineer Gustave Eiffel.

On display after the videos are around 150 related pieces including models of the statue’s feet, which were progressively increased in size until they reached their current dimension on the Liberty Island pedestal.

The museum also shows copper reproductions of other parts of the statue such as the face, which also shows the original bronze color of the statue that oxidation has turned to green.

The centerpiece, however, is the original flaming torch that was held against the New York sky from 1886 to 1996, when it was substituted by the current one in the style created by Bartholdi.

And that is because the flame of the Statue of Liberty changed over the years, from the addition of electric lighting inside it to the installation of windows. Its most recent makeover, in 1916, substituted the surface of copper with 600 pieces of glass tinted an amber color, the work of American sculptor Gutzon Borglum, the creator of Mount Rushmore.

However, this latest modification meant a quicker deterioration of the torch and its later removal, since it allowed rain and debris to get inside the statue.

The museum replaces a small gallery that was inside the statue’s pedestal and allows access for all visitors to the island, and not just for those who buy tickets to enter the statue.

According to the superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island, John Piltzecker, the opening of this museum was also a device for welcoming the tens of thousands of people who visit Liberty Island every day.

Only 20 percent of the up to 25,000 people who can visit the island on a summer’s day actually gain admission to the pedestal, the National Park Service official said.

Now, with the new building constructed on land reclaimed from the sea during World War I for military use, it will no longer be necessary to visit the statue, but rather a round-trip ticket on the ferry provides free access to see in person the flame that was the dream of the thousands of immigrants who came to the United States by sea.

 

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