Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World; French: La Liberté éclairant le monde) is a monumental neoclassical sculpture in New York Harbor, New York, United States, on Liberty Island. The copper statue, a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States, was designed by the French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, and Gustave Eiffel created its metal structure. On 28 October 1886 the statue was dedicated.
The statue is Libertas, a robbed goddess of Roman liberty. She wears a torch in her right hand above her head and bears in her left hand a tabula ansata inscribed on JULY IV MDCCLXXVI (4 July 1776 in Roman numerals), the date of the United States.
Bartholdi was inspired by a French law professor and politician, Édouard René de Laboulaye, who is said to have commented in 1865 that any monument raised to U.S. independence would properly be a joint project of the French and U.S. peoples. Because of the post-war instability in France, work on the statue did not commence until the early 1870s. In 1875, Laboulaye proposed that the French finance the statue and the U.S. provide the site and build the pedestal. Bartholdi completed the head and the torch-bearing arm before the statue was fully designed, and these pieces were exhibited for publicity at international expositions.
The torch-bearing arm was displayed at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876, and from 1876 to 1882 at Madison Square Park in Manhattan. Fundraising proved difficult, particularly for the Americans, and lack of funds threatened work on the pedestal by 1885. New York World publisher Joseph Pulitzer started a donation drive to complete the project and attracted over 120,000 donors, most of whom gave less than a dollar. Designed in France, the statue was shipped in crates overseas, and placed on the completed pedestal on what was then called Bedloe’s Island. The completion of the statue was marked by the first ticker- parade in New York, and a ceremony of dedication presided over by President Grover Cleveland.
The statue was operated by the United States Lighthouse Board until 1901 and then by the Department of War; as part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, it has been preserved by the National Park Service since 1933, and is a major tourist attraction. Regardless of the coronavirus pandemic of 2019–20, it reopened early on March 16, 2020. Since 1916 public access to the balcony around the torch has been prohibited.
The Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island museum collection contains approximately 390,000 individual items and over 1 million archival documents, reflecting the cultural and natural history of both Liberty Islands and Ellis Islands. The collection consists mostly of site-related artifacts legally required to be acquired and maintained by the National Park Service, which contributes to the interpretive themes of the Park. Such materials are used by displays, research, interpretive services, magazines, and media to inform and encourage current and future generations about the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
Significant objects in the museum collection include 1886 models of the Statue of Liberty sold to raise funds for the creation of the Monument; a selection of letters exchanged between Auguste Bartholdi (designer of the Statue of Liberty) and Joseph Pulitzer (editor of the New York World newspaper); immigration documents such as identification cards, passports and tickets for steamships; and personal objects of families.