A replica of the Statue of Liberty embarked on a journey from Paris to New York this week, officials in France said, sending the United States another, much smaller monument to freedom and symbol of Franco-American friendship.
At less than 3 meters tall, a 16th the size of her bigger sister, the bronze statue was carefully lifted from its place a museum of inventions in Paris at a ceremony on Monday, according to a press release of the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts. The statue, which weighs nearly 1,000 pounds, has been on display at the museum, Musée des Arts et Métiers, for 10 years and will be placed in a specially designed Plexiglass box for its nine-day voyage across the Atlantic.
The smaller statue, based on the original 1878 plaster model by sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, was installed in 2011 just outside the entrance to the museum. This image was cast using a 3D scan of another model in Paris, the press release said. It will be on display on Ellis Island from July 1-5, opposite its much bigger sibling on Liberty Island. It will then be moved to the residence of the French Ambassador in Washington, D.C., where it will be on display from July 14, French Bastille Day, until 2031.
According to the conservatory, there are more than 100 replicas of the Statue of Liberty around the world. More than 30 are in France, including a handful in Paris.
His arrival in New York, the conservatory said, is intended to celebrate and underline the central value of Franco-American friendship: freedom. The officials also said the gesture was intended to pay tribute to those who had fought for freedom and democracy on both sides of the Atlantic.
Similar ideas were behind the original 19th century image, which was conceived by the legal thinker Édouard René Lefèbvre de Laboulaye, a French abolitionist known in the United States for his Civil War pamphlets defending the Union's cause. An 1870 model of the statue depicted Lady Liberty with broken chains in her left hand, a reference to emancipation.
The final model of the statue moved the broken chains under Lady Liberty's feet, with a tablet representing the rule of law in its place.
The date of American independence, July 4, 1776, is written on the tablet in Roman numerals. The sculptor, Mr. Bartholdi, based the design of the statue on the Roman goddess Libertas, who is usually depicted wearing a Phrygian cap, traditionally worn by freed Roman slaves.
On a trip to the United States, Mr. Bartholdi chose what was then Bedloe's Island – it was renamed Liberty Island in 1956 – for its visibility to ships entering New York Harbor. The pieces of the statue were built in France in the 1870s and assembled and displayed in Paris from 1881 to 1884.
The smaller statue will have a much easier journey to the United States than its larger predecessor, which stands 151-feet high on a 154-foot-tall pedestal. The 19th-century statue had to be taken apart to be shipped across the Atlantic and arrived in June 1885. The pedestal was finished a year later, and the pieces were reassembled around an iron frame. Finally, it opened to much fanfare on October 28, 1886 – despite bad weather.
"The recent and massive structures at the bottom of Manhattan Island, at a distance from which details are lost and outlines and masses only visible, make New York a suitable backdrop for the most lavish water spectacle," The New York Times reported at the event.
About six years later, the government opened Ellis Island, the inspection site through which more than 12 million immigrants would pass over the next few decades. Emma Lazarus' famous poem "The New Colossus", describing the statue welcoming the "huddled masses yearning to breathe free", was affixed to the statue's pedestal in 1903.
The US Embassy in France shared a video on Twitter this week of a crane lifting the statue into the air while workers underneath carefully held it with straps.
At a ceremony to mark the occasion, Liam Wasley, an acting deputy at the embassy, said"This Atlantic crossing renews and strengthens our shared attachment to what we believe in, the foundation of our relationship."