• Immigrants awaiting inspection in front of Ellis Island's Main Building

    Ellis Island

    Part of Statue of Liberty National Monument NJ,NY

While at the Park

Baggage Room Exhibit
The Baggage Room in the Main Building welcomes and introduces you to Ellis Island. 
NPS Photo/Kevin Daley

We want you and your students to have a fantastic visit to Ellis Island.

The Main Building, where most visitors spend most of their time, has three floors of exhibits about the history of the island and immigration a century ago. Outside are walkways, areas to eat, and wonderful views of the Statue of Liberty and the New York City skyline. With so much to see, visiting Ellis Island can take minutes, hours, or even an entire day.

The following are suggestions for visiting based on how much time you and your students have on Ellis Island.

Less than 30 minutes
Visit the Registry Room, also known as the Great Hall, on the second level. This is where millions of immigrants were processed from 1900 through the early 1920s.

Walk down the Stairs of Separation, read the brass plaque that explains why the stairs are separated, and notice the wear on these original stairs. At the bottom of the Stairs of Separation, make sure to turn left to return to the Baggage Room and the museum exit.

Less than 1 hour
The above, plus add the following before walking down the Stairs of Separation:

Proceed to the southwest corner of the Registry Room/Great Hall and visit "Through America's Gate," an exhibit chonicling the immigrant experience at Ellis Island.

Less than 2 hours
The above OR choose ONE of the following:

  • Take the Ranger Tour (free, 45 minutes)
  • Watch the Movie/Documentary, "Island of Hope; Island of Tears" (free, 45 minute program; 15 minute ranger led introduction + 30 minute documentary)


Visit the third level east exhibit area. First explore "Treasures from Home," a collection of belongings that immigrants brought from their homelands.

Then, choose ONE of the following:

  • "Ellis Island Chronicles" features the geographic history of Ellis Island through photos, documents, and models
  • "Silent Voices" and "Restoring a Landmark" showcases the Ellis Island Immigration Station after its closure and abandonment in 1954 and reveals how the Main Building was restored

Less than 3 hours
Same as for "Less than 2 hours," plus:

Visit the Dormitory Room and view additional historic photographs of the Registry Room/Great Hall along the Balcony on the third level.

Proceed to the east side of the second level and visit "Peak Immigration Years," an exhibit revealing the challenges of immigrating to the United States a century ago.

More than 3 hours
Start on the third level and work your way down through the exhibits (ensure you do not miss a visit to the Registry Room/Great Hall), and then choose one or more of the following:

  • Take the Ranger Tour (free, 45 minutes)
  • Listen to the Audio Tour (included in ticket price, approximately 45 minutes minimum)
  • Watch the Movie/Documentary, "Island of Hope; Island of Tears" (free, 45 minute program; 15 minute ranger led introduction + 30 minute documentary)


  • Brochures (contains a map) are available at the Information Desk.
  • Floor plans (dark gray and labeled "Directory") can be found throughout the museum.
  • There are stairs in every corner of the main space on each level (Baggage Room, Registry Room, and Balcony).

We hope this helps as you plan and enjoy your visit to Ellis Island!

Did You Know?

Old Elliscropped

When Ellis Island was opened in 1892, the facility bore little resemblance to the Renaissance Revival/Beaux Arts structure that people have come to know today. Made out of Georgia pine, the complex caught fire on June 15, 1897 and burned to the ground in about 6 hours. The current building was opened on December 17, 1900.