A Virtual Tour Retaught Me About the Statue of Liberty


The Statue of Liberty appears on Liberty Island in the harbor of New York City in 2010.

By Anna Krejci

When I visited the Statue of Liberty in 2010, I was eager to see it in person.  Ever since I could remember as a child, I knew she existed, and I knew she was significant to the United States.  I am almost certain she was represented on some television shows directed toward children and certainly in advertisements and the news.  Before I saw her in person, I knew the ideals she represented: democracy, freedom, independence, and a welcoming country to immigrants.  It was partly her fame that made me want to visit her.  It was partly a desire to share an experience with the people throughout history who saw her, whether they were born in the U.S. or new immigrants.

Fast forward to 2023 and much of what I learned on my visit faded from memory.  All I had left were my photographs and a folded Liberty Island pamphlet that shared the logistical advice of seeing the statue and a little history of it.  Those things were better than nothing, but how could that be that I became so removed from my recollections?  Well, life happened in the meantime, that is the explanation for it.

Normally I like to keep a journal that details the most personally meaningful experiences of my trips.  I did not do it for the Statue of Liberty, unfortunately.  For this blog entry, I was inspired to research the statue by looking for a virtual tour of it.  I found a virtual tour by the Heritage Documentation Programs on the National Park Service’s website.  NPS.gov also featured summaries online of Statue of Liberty Museum’s exhibits. From the site, I learned about the changes to Liberty Island and the statue after the 1986 renovation.  I saw photos in 360 degrees of the statue’s crown, stairs, and torch.  Those were interior views that I never had the chance to see when I went to the island in person.  I learned that a new museum building as of 2019 opened long after I was there.  Some of the best things I learned, or relearned from the website, was the history between France and the United States and the timing of the gift.  “Liberty Enlightening the World” was given by the people of France at the United States’ 100th anniversary of independence and after the relatively recent end of slavery in the United States.  Its dedication took place in October 1886.  How kind to have received an affirming gift like the statue after such an ugly period of the Civil War in the United States.  Our country had endured severe imperfection by allowing slavery, yet the people of France wanted to lift our institutional spirit afterward by bestowing this statue. When I visited the statue, which was lifted high on a pedestal, I could not see the broken shackle and chain at her feet that represented the abolition of slavery. I learned about it from the National Park Service’s documentation, yet another reason why I appreciated the look I had from online.

One of the things I learned from visiting the statue in person did remain with me, likely because it surprised me so much.  The familiar image of the green Statue of Liberty I had seen all my life was not how the statue looked originally.  She was brown at the outset, and that was because her outer layer, made of copper and after exposure to air for decades, turned green in the natural process that affects copper called oxidation.  A 2016 article in The New Yorker explains that. This was not so much upsetting as just intriguing.  All my life I had such a fixed image of the Statue of Liberty in my mind.  She changed color.  And the public would not have had a good idea of it if not for the photographs and documentation of the statue over time.  Now I have bragging rights to say I’ve been to the Statue of Liberty, but I do not underestimate the value of a virtual tour, nor that of the detailed documentation of the statue, in helping me look back and forward.

Works Cited

Frazier, Ian. “The Statue of Liberty’s Beguiling Green.” The New Yorker, 12 Sept., 2016. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/09/19/the-statue-of-libertys-beguiling-green


“Liberty Enlightening the World.” National Park Service, 31 May, 2023, https://www.nps.gov/stli/index.htm.


“Statue of Liberty Virtual Tour.” National Park Service, 14 Oct., 2022, https://www.nps.gov/stli/learn/photosmultimedia/hdp-virtualtour.htm#:~:text=About%20the%20Statue%20of%20Liberty,the%20same%20areas%20decades%20ago.