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BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER | Ellis and Liberty Islands have remained closed to the public since Superstorm Sandy surged into them on Oct. 29, 2012. Now the National Park Service, which administers both islands, has announced that the Ellis Island collection of more than one million objects has been moved to the N.P.S. Museum Resources Center in Landover, Maryland for safekeeping.
The collection, which chronicles the nation’s immigration history with archival documents and historical artifacts, wasn’t harmed by Superstorm Sandy, but it was impossible to maintain the climate-controlled environment needed for conservation. The Museum Resources Center already holds collections from several N.P.S. sites in the Washington, D.C. area, including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
On a limited basis, researchers can access the Ellis Island collection at its temporary location.
Neither Ellis nor Liberty Islands has electrical power, so the Ellis Island collection had to be moved by hand down three flights of stairs.
Exhibits in the Ferry Building documenting Ellis Island’s significance as the world’s first public health facility, had previously been moved to the Harpers Ferry Conservation Center for assessment and treatment.
Statue Cruises, the official concessioner to the National Park Service, which had formerly transported visitors to and from Ellis and Liberty Islands, had to lay off 300 employees when the islands closed to the public. Since then, Statue Cruises has been offering harbor tours.
As of the beginning of January, there are 100 narrated tours a week, each lasting an hour and departing daily from Battery Park at 30-minute intervals between 10 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. Uniformed National Park Service rangers are on board to answer visitors’ questions, much as they had done when visitors were actually able to set foot on Liberty and Ellis Islands.
Tickets are $24 for adults, $17 for seniors and $12 for children. They can be purchased online at ww.statuecruises.com, by calling 201-604-2800 or at the seawall in Battery Park.