HYATTSVILLE, Md. (WJZ) — One year after being severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy, parts of Ellis Island reopened to the public on Monday. But the historic site is still without nearly a million of its artifacts. They’re hundreds of miles away, here in Maryland.
Monique Griego has more on why the collection hasn’t returned home.
There are still a lot of repairs and upgrades that need to be completed before the artifacts will return to Ellis Island. Monday, WJZ got a sneak peek at what’s being stored here in Maryland.
“These tier racks are all materials from Ellis Island,” said Bob Sonderman, Museum Resource Center.
Sonderman showed WJZ aisle after aisle of historic pieces from New York’s Ellis Island.
The facility, which houses millions of museum items for the National Parks Service, received the collection in January after Superstorm Sandy swamped the island with eight feet of water.
“It knocked out the power so you couldn’t maintain proper environmental controls and security systems to house collections there,” Sonderman said.
Monday, one year after the storm, parts of the island–which welcomed millions of immigrants to America–reopened to the public. But the vast majority of the museum’s artifacts, around one million objects, remain in temporary housing.
“We have textiles, we have luggage…just a remarkable collection of personal objects that people left behind,” Sonderman said.
Some of the more delicate items are housed in an extremely cold storage vault. Most are film-based products.
Out of the vault, Sonderman’s team showed WJZ some of the archives of documented immigrants arriving to the island. A book from around the turn of the century was signed by people visiting the Statue of Liberty.
All of the items will remain in Maryland until repairs and upgrades are completed at Ellis Island.
Sonderman is proud to be part of saving this important piece of history.
“We owe it to future generations and previous generations to preserve and protect these objects that represent us,” he said.
As of right now, there is no exact date for when the repairs and upgrades will be completed. There is no estimate for how much it will cost.
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