Ellis Island National Monument

Ellis Island National Monument

Traveling Exhibit at Ellis Island Brings Story of Alcatraz to NYC

October 6, 2011, 1:29 pm

Can’t make it to San Francisco to visit Alcatraz Island? For a limited time, New Yorkers need only hop a ferry—instead of a flight—to experience “The Rock” firsthand. A traveling exhibit titled “Alcatraz: Life on The Rock,” has arrived at Ellis Island and will run until January 12, 2012.

Showcasing Alcatraz Island's fascinating history and infamous inmates, “Life on The Rock” includes authentic artifacts and interactive displays that present surprising stories and a behind-the-scenes look at chambers not normally open to visitors.

The 2,800 square-foot modular exhibit, which was created by Alcatraz Cruises in partnership with the National Park Service, features authentic artifacts and recreated areas of the prison, including walk-through cell doors.

Murals, video clips and memorabilia help bring to life historical elements of the island such as its role as a military prison, the Native American occupation of 1969–71, Alcatraz’s depiction in pop culture and the island’s lush flora and fauna. Visitors also get an inside look at the infamous federal prison, operated from 1934–1963.

“Life on The Rock” allows guests to visually experience life inside the prison by looking through a mock tunnel, similar to the one dug by prisoners attempting escape, and by searching for Civil War era etchings in a recreated prison wall. The exhibit features several rare, authentic artifacts, including an original letter written by Robert “Birdman” Stroud, a blood-smeared baseball from the Alcatraz exercise yard, a butter knife turned weapon and a cookbook that the Alcatraz Women’s Club sold to families on the island. The exhibit marks the first time several of these historic artifacts are available for public display.

“The demand to visit Alcatraz is nearly double the amount of visitors that the island can accommodate annually,” said Terry McRae, CEO of Alcatraz Cruises and Hornblower Cruises & Events. “Through our partnership with the NPS, we can now bring this experience to visitors in other areas of the country who may not have the opportunity to visit Alcatraz, while telling the island’s rich history beyond just the prison era.”

Admission is included with all Statue Cruises tickets to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and is only accessible by ferry during operating hours. To purchase tickets, visit statuecruises.com.

Image: "Alcatraz: Life on The Rock" features authentic artifacts and recreated areas of the prison, including walk-through cell doors. Souce: Mark Walhimer for Alcatraz Cruises.