New York, NY (September 24, 2008) - Today in Ellis Island's historic Great Hall, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne joined The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. and the National Park Service in unveiling the plans for a significant expansion of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum to be called The Peopling of America® Center. Designed by ESI Design, this exciting new Center will enlarge the story currently told of the Ellis Island Era (1892-1954) to include the entire panorama of the American immigration experience, with exhibits dedicated to those who arrived before Ellis as well as those who arrived post-1954, right up to the present. It will illustrate the American immigration story across the generations and the important role immigrants have played in the making of this great nation.
"This expansion will not only significantly broaden the scope of this wonderful museum's content, but also its relevancy to the more diverse audiences who visit America's national parks today," said Secretary Kempthorne. "To reflect this expanded mission, I am delighted to announce that upon completion of the Center, this museum will be re-named Ellis Island: The National Museum of Immigration."
Secretary Kempthorne went on to announce that $2.3 million have been committed to The Peopling of America® Center as part of the National Park Service Centennial Challenge Initiative, and the Bank of America Charitable Foundation is providing $1.5 million in matching funds, along with a $1 million match by the Annenberg Foundation .
Shown: The Annenberg Foundation's Gillian Norris-Szanto, Cynthia Garrett, Superintendent, Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island, Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne, Bank of America Charitable Foundation's Andrew Plepler and Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation's Steve Briganti. Photo Credit: Tina Fineberg
"Bank of America is proud to be the Founding Partner for this dynamic and timely project which is consistent with other investments we have made to preserve our nation's heritage," said Andrew D. Plepler, Global Community Impact Executive and President, Bank of America Charitable Foundation. "Underwriting The Citizenship Gallery is a natural fit with our company's role as the Bank of Opportunity. Our business and our philanthropy are focused on creating economic opportunity for individuals and businesses, and helping communities thrive."
Gregory Annenberg Weingarten, Trustee of the Annenberg Foundation comments, "On behalf of the Annenberg Foundation, I am delighted to support The Peopling of America® Center. We believe that sharing ideas and knowledge is critical to the improved public well-being. We hope that the visitors to the New Eras of Immigration Gallery, underwritten by the Annenberg Foundation, will leave with a deeper appreciation for what is possible in our country and in the world today."
The Center's citizenship component was highlighted at the event with a naturalization ceremony under the direction of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, during which twelve immigrants from countries including Ecuador, Thailand, Haiti, Mexico, Turkey and India were sworn-in as new American citizens. The Peopling of America® Center, a $20 million undertaking, continues the historic partnership between The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation and the National Park Service. It will entail the redesign of one major existing gallery, the restoration of two historically important spaces to accommodate additional Center exhibits, and the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of the New Immigration Building to house the museum's curatorial center.
"The Foundation is gratified to once again work in partnership with the Park Service to tell the complete story of the populating of America, dramatically broadening and enhancing how the museum's millions of visitors from across the country and around the world will experience Ellis Island," said Foundation President and CEO, Stephen A. Briganti. "I am pleased to announce that we are over 75% toward our fundraising goal, and work on the first phase of this highly anticipated expansion began on September 15th."
"We have designed The Peopling of America® Center to serve as a way for everyone who visits Ellis Island to personally connect with their family's immigration story," said Edwin Schlossberg, principal designer of ESI Design. The architectural and engineering work is being designed by Highland Associates.
The Peopling of America® Center is expected to be completed in 2011.
Photo Editors: High resolution images of The Peopling of America® Center exhibits and captions are available online at:
See national coverage by USA Today, the New York Times and Associated Press: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-09-23-ellis-island_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip
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