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Pedestal Museum

Located inside the Statue of Liberty's pedestal, the museum displays interesting Liberty exhibits including her original torch.

TravelCurious Tip

Access to the pedestal is limited and requires reservations, so be sure to book ahead

The Statue of Liberty itself might hog the limelight, but there’s a story behind the pedestal too. While the statue was a grand gift from the French to the people of the United States, the pedestal was constructed by the Americans.

It was built to face southeast, so that the statue would greet (and cow) ships entering the harbour from the Atlantic Ocean. It is 27 metres tall and designed as a truncated pyramid replete with Aztec motifs and elements of Greek architecture, such as its Doric portals.

Money, money, money

Financial concerns dogged the pedestal’s construction. The Panic of 1873 led to an economic depression that persisted through much of the decade and there was criticism of the fact that the Americans were required to foot the bill for the rather less glamorous pedestal, while the French were to design the key part of an American public work. As a result of this, committee fundraising lagged.

In the end it was the American people who paid: five months of daily calls to donate in the New York World newspaper raised $102,000 from 120,000 donors, with 80% of the total received in sums of less than a dollar.

A torch to the past

The pedestal museum’s collection is divided into three parts: history, archeology and natural history. It follows the development of Liberty and Ellis islands from the 19th to the 21st century, as they served as military sites, immigrant stations, hospitals and home to the Statue of Liberty. You can also find the statue’s original torch here — in 1984 it was replaced by a new copper torch covered in 24k gold leaf.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in New York
Battery Park
This historic park on Manhattan's southern tip hosts a number of memorials and a rather special carousel.
Charging Bull
A guerilla installation following the 1987 stock market crash, the Charging Bull remains in the financial district as a symbol of energy, strength and unpredictability.
Statue of Liberty
An emblem of America and its ideals of freedom, Lady Liberty has welcomed visitors since 1886.
Ellis Island
This island served as New York’s main immigration station from 1892 until 1954.
Bowling Green
Small park where a statue of George III used to reign over Lower Manhattan
Castle Clinton
19th century fort in Battery Park

Related Tours

Democracy and Hope: the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour
See New York through a different perspective in a tour which takes you out to the islands in Upper Bay. With visits to both the State of Liberty and Ellis Island, you will be able to see New York from the perspective of so many of the immigrants who helped grow the wealth and history of the United States. 

  • See the breathtaking Statue of Liberty
  • Appreciate the contribution of American immigrants visiting Ellis Island
  • Go around the historic Castle Clinton
Lady Liberty

You will begin your tour at Castle Clinton, a former Fort in Battery Park, where you will board the ferry to the famous Liberty Island. Along the way, you will learn about the remarkable history of the Statue of Liberty, as well as its significance to modern America. From here you will also be able to enjoy a breathtaking view over the Manhattan skylines and harbor. 

Boarding at Liberty Island, you will hear all about the fascinating history of the Liberty figure, and how this 100th birthday gift to America from France was shipped from Paris to New York, and finally unveiled after 10 years of construction in 1886. You will also pay a visit to the fascinating Pedestal Museum, where you will be able to venture to the top of Lady Liberty’s pedestal for a perfect view over the harbor. 

Built on Immigration

It is estimated that forty percent of the entire US population can trace at least one relative's arrival to the US, through the port of New York and Ellis Island. At Ellis Island you will discover the many extraordinary stories of families journeying to New York City since the earliest days of the United States founding. At the museum, your expert local guide will talk you through some of the exhibits on display. You will also have time to properly enjoy the museum at your own pace, as you immerse yourself in a similar journey to that of a newly arrived person. You will be able to grab a bite to eat on the island, or alternatively, you may purchase some snacks on the ferry back to Manhattan.



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