Nearly half of all Americans have an ancestral tie to the 22 million people who sailed past the Statue of Liberty upon arriving at Ellis Island. A new audio guide experience developed by Acoustiguide in collaboration with the National Park Service and The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc., takes guests on a journey back in time and across thousands of miles to discover the deeply poignant, improbable and epic tale of these iconic American landmarks.
Responding to the call for greater accessibility, Acoustiguide’s award-winning creative team produced a suite of multimedia tours that provide an engaging and immersive experience for everyone. Available in 12 languages – Arabic, English, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish – the general tour tells the awe-inspiring stories that helped shape the course of American history. Another offering, an intergenerational, kid-friendly tour, brings families together to share the experience of discovery.
The Adult tour is also available in American Sign Language with video segments that coincide with each stop on the tour. And for visitors with low or no vision, there is an Audio Descriptive (AD) tour giving detailed dimensions and physical explanations as well as readings of text panels and overviews of content available in exhibit galleries. At the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, the AD tour currently covers part of the 1st floor (General Introduction, Journeys: The Peopling of America galleries, and the Baggage Room) and half of the 2nd floor (The Ellis Experience) with a current running time of 135 minutes Additional content will be created and added to the tours over the next year.
“We are excited about our partnership with The Foundation and the National Park Service and to bring this new experience to The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island,” said Nadav Karni, Acoustiguide Group CEO. “The tours are brought to life on our exclusive Opus series multi-media player, which is easy-to-use and comfortably fits in visitors’ hands. The crisp audio and visual display deliver a 360-degree experience that communicates the Institution’s mission and enhances visitor engagement.”
Said Stephen A. Briganti, president and chief executive officer of The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, “When the Foundation restored the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, we wanted visitors to gain a sense of the experiences had by the more than 22 million immigrants who passed through these doors. The new audio tours not only brings these stories to life but also explains the history of these two great national treasures in a compelling and entertaining way.”
“With tours in 12 languages, as well as an ASL tour and an Audio Described tour, the Park can offer an interpretive experience to the majority of our visitors to both Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty,” Judy Giuriceo, Curator of Exhibits & Media, National Park Service.
With more than 120+ hours of contents and 2000 audio stop segments in the three-part chronicle at Ellis Island: The Ellis Experience; Journeys: The Peopling of America; and Journeys: New Eras of Immigration, the tours are an effective way to generate an emotional connection and spark conversation across generations.
“As an immigrant myself, and a true believer in the transcendent power of storytelling, I am deeply, deeply grateful to lead our team in delivering an audio experience at the most iconic American institution symbolizing hope, a new life and freedom to millions of people,” said Daniela Gorelov, Managing Director of the Americas, Acoustiguide Inc.
Conceived as true “theater for the ears,” this new tour approaches each chapter as its own, specifically suited to the subject matter and the design of the exhibitions. The Ellis Experience features first-person accounts excerpted from hundreds of oral histories; new interviews with historians, National Park Service Rangers, and other experts; actors portraying officials, doctors, and others who once staffed the island; sound effects; music; and carefully chosen and directed narrators.
The Journeys: The Peopling of America; and Journeys: New Eras of Immigration galleries are highly interactive and Acoustiguide designed tours to optimize visitor engagement in the exhibition space. Using the tour as a preview to “conversations” about the immigrant experience taking place in each space, the narrators invite the listener to engage in activities, view first-person audio and video content, and interact with educational installations to learn more about the lives of these immigrants.
At Liberty Island, visitors can take an engaging, family-friendly tour, sharing in the experience of coming to America and crossing New York Harbor to find a new home in the United States together.
According to Karni and Gorelov from Acoustiguide, it was very important to be able to paint a full and honest picture of the immigrant experience for younger visitors. Acousitguide’s award-winning creative team determined that by speaking directly to the visitor, these approachable and empathetic characters could effectively introduce topics and first-person accounts, ask provocative questions, and provide an opportunity for discussion.
The audio tours are included in the price of a ferry ticket.
“This exhibit is so profound and important,” said Gorelov. “There is a deep pull of the past in our current national conversation. We are proud to be able to be a part of sharing the stories of Ellis Island and its role as the thread that weaves the fabric of America.”