‘Retratos Imigrantes/Immigrant Portraits’ exhibit to open on Ellis Island

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News Release Date: May 2, 2015

Contact: Mindi Rambo, 212-668-2208

 “Retratos Imigrantes/Immigrant Portraits: A Museum Dialogue Between São Paulo and New York,” is scheduled to open on Ellis Island on May 1, 2015 at 1 p.m. The exhibit is the result of a partnership between the Immigration Museum of the State of São Paulo, Brazil and the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island. It commemorates the collective past of the immigrant experience in Brazil and the United States. Similar exhibits will run concurrently at the Immigration Museum of São Paulo and the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. The exhibits – photographs from the collections of both museums – promote reflection about immigration to the United States and Brazil at the beginning of the 20th century.


“Retratos Imigrantes/Immigrant Portraits” includes photographs from the Augustus Frederick Sherman collection at Statue of Liberty National Monument. These photographs include images of families, groups and individuals (often wearing national costumes). They were taken between 1905 and 1920 by Sherman, a self-taught photographer and Chief Clerk in the Immigration Division of Ellis Island. These photographs will be exhibited side by side with photographs from the Immigration Museum of the State of São Paulo, depicting individuals and families who passed through the former Brás Immigrant Hostelry.
Ellis Island is the well-known example of an isolated immigration station and public health hospital complex within the United States, 1892 – 1954; ideal for processing, quarantine, detention and deportation. This “island of hope, island of tears” now symbolizes the story of immigration in the United States, the cultural richness of the U.S., the contribution of immigrants to U.S. society, and the continuing debate about immigration policy in this country.


In Brazil, a single province was responsible for bringing more than 2.5 million European and Asian immigrants by the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th Centuries: São Paulo. The main building of the Immigration Museum is the old Hospedaria de Imigrantes do Brás (Brás Immigrant Hostelry), built in São Paulo at the end of the 19th Century to serve as lodging for foreign labor. Since its founding, the Immigration Museum of São Paulo has been committed to preserving, searching and sharing stories and memories of international and internal migration to the state of São Paulo. Photographs of the people who passed through the Hostelry are an immediate way to tell these stories.

About Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island
Opened on January 1, 1892, Ellis Island became the nation's premier federal immigration station. In operation until 1954, more than 12 million immigrants were processed at the station. The main building was restored after 30 years of abandonment and opened as a museum on September 10, 1990. It has been estimated that more than 40 percent of America’s population today can trace their ancestry through Ellis Island.

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Last updated: May 2, 2015

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