Ellis Island Becomes Immigration Museum

One of America’s most iconic gates of entry for immigration is now a museum dedicated to the act of immigrating itself.

New York’s Ellis Island building is now a museum, and is currently in the process of developing a number of world-class exhibits that will chronicle the history of immigration in the United States, according to the New York Daily News. Ellis Island’s first project, “Called Journeys: The Peopling of America 1550-1890,” provides in-depth information of how Ellis Island came to be such a popular immigration center, is currently open to the public. The interactive display uses audio recordings as well as video screens to make the exhibit both a visual and audible experience for visitors.

Ellis Island’s second exhibit, which will focus on immigration post 1950, will chronicle the difficulties and bans that some individuals faced during their attempts to gain residency or citizenship. These displays are scheduled to open next year.

The opening of the museum was also a chance to restore the Ellis Island building. Renovations on the main building began in the 1980s, when the building was literally crumbling from decay in some spots, according to the New York Daily News.

The island’s complex, which is part of the National Parks Service, is also home to a range of research tools available to the public, according to Ellis Island’s official website. Families can look for relatives that may have passed through Ellis Island using the American Family Immigration History Center. Many professionals are also available on-site and can assist families with their genealogy searches.

“It really is an effort to be more inclusive and turn this into a museum for immigration,” Virginia Yans, a Rutgers University historian, told New York Daily News.