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Front view of Ellis Island Immigration Museum

Visiting the Ellis Island Immigration Museum

There are a lot of places in this world that are an important part of history, and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum is one of them. It was here between 1892 and 1954 that more than 12 million immigrants came through the first federal immigrant processing station in search of a better life. Those are so many lives that were forever changed not even counting those of their descendants. It’s no surprise that you’re thinking of visiting the Ellis Island Immigration Museum considering how wonderful it is, but before you do, check out some of the tidbits of information to know before you go.

There Are Several Types of Tours to Take
When you go to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, you can either do a self-guided tour or choose to take one that is led by a National Park Service Ranger. Take note that if you opt for the self-guided tour, you can use a brochure to help you get a feel for the exhibits, but if you go with the guided tour – which is free – it’s a way to ask some questions and learn even more information while you navigate the three floors of exhibits. There is also an audio tour available for adults as well as children (ages 6 – 10). While the adult tour is available in 9 languages, the children’s tour is available in 5.

The Hard Hat Tour
Did you know that you can take a Hard Hat Tour of the hospital complex? The guided tour is 90-minutes and you’ll be able to see a variety of areas ranging from the autopsy room to the infectious and contagious disease wards. There is an extra cost involved, but the money goes toward restoring the south side buildings.

You Can Only Take a Ferry Boat to the Island
Sorry, but you can’t just drive your boat up to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. You can only take the Statue Cruises Ferry from either New York or New Jersey. Also, you cannot take your four-legged companion with you unless they’re documented as a service or assist animal. In the case of inclement weather, call and verify beforehand what the ferry schedule is so you don’t encounter any problems upon arrival.

Great hall inside Immigration Museum

Songquan Deng /

There Are a Few Ways to Get Tickets
It’s recommended that you get your tickets ahead of time so you’re already set and prepared. You can either call to get the tickets or order them online. Another option, however, is to go to the ferry departure point and get your tickets there. Make sure that you don’t get your tickets from a random person walking around trying to sell theirs (i.e. a scammer).

Honoring Your Family’s History
If you’re going to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, make sure to check out The American Immigrant Wall of Honor which is inscribed with more than 700,000 names. Additionally, you can also do a passenger search of manifest documents. Both searches can also be done online before you go.

Keep in mind before you visit the Ellis Island Immigration Museum that there are strict security measures in place. For example, you can’t take large bags or store your items there. Make sure to plan accordingly.