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Famous faces in America

By Marley White, courtesy NYC & Co.

Some people have contributed so to the fabric of our nation that their faces have become unforgettable in our collective consciousness. Attractions and monuments in many corners of the United States commemorate famous faces that are intricately interwoven into this country’s history.

Many of the nation’s memorials and monuments symbolize America’s fight for freedom. The Statue of Liberty stands tall in New York Harbor, and the Black Hills’ Crazy Horse Memorial speaks to our rich Native American heritage. Washington, D.C.’s memorials honor Americans who authentically gave their lives for causes they believed in.

Museums dedicated to famous personalities remind us, in some shape or form, of the uniqueness within us all. At the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Oklahoma, the wit and wisdom of this patriot, entertainer and family man has never gone out of style. And Pittsburgh’s Andy Warhol Museum showcases an artist who refreshingly pushed the boundaries of conventional art.

—  Statue of Liberty National  —
Monument, New York

Thanks to the commitment and hard work of the National Park Service, the Department of Transportation and many local and state partners, the Statue of Liberty National Monument is expected to reopen July 4. The city and community have been working to rebuild the region since Hurricane Sandy inflicted major damage on facilities that support the statue.

Starting on Independence Day, groups will be able to board Statue Cruises at Liberty State Park, New Jersey, or at Battery Park, New York. They will stop at Ellis Island for security screening and then continue on to Liberty Island.

With advance reservations, visitors can climb the 354 steps, equivalent to 20 stories, to the statue’s crown. The steps are 19 inches wide with head clearance of 6 feet, 2 inches, so the climb is not for the faint of heart or the claustrophobic. The inside air temperature is approximately 20 degrees higher than the outside temperature. Visitors entering the statue will be required to have a secondary screening before entering the monument.

“Although the climb is strenuous, the view is extraordinary looking back at lower Manhattan and one that people will never forget,” said NYC and Company spokesman Christopher Heywood.

On the pedestal’s lower level, a small museum displays a replica of the statue and details of the construction process. The Ellis Island Immigration Museum is under repair from storm damage, and to date, there is no planned reopening.

“Visitors are always impressed by the size of the statue,” said park ranger Paula Aviles. “Lady Liberty is amazing up close and personal.”

—  Andy Warhol Museum  —

Andy Warhol made a name for himself by creating modern artwork that was inspired by famous faces. Today, the Andy Warhol Museum offers visitors a fantastical journey that covers every period of Warhol’s creativity, from the 1940s through the 1980s. Seven floors dedicated to his genius display more than 8,000 works of art: paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculptures and installations.

Visitors are encouraged to start on the seventh floor of the museum and work their way down. The top floor houses traveling exhibitions. Galleries on the lower floors feature Warhol’s art, archives and film. An underground level houses the cafe and education studio for group programs.

“The Factory, which is open every day, allows people to create their own Warhol-inspired artwork,” said Emily Meyer, assistant communications manager. “It gives visitors a chance to explore Warhol’s artmaking process.”

Warhol’s film and video work is also presented daily, as well as films by others that contextualize Warhol’s work. Warhol’s pivotal place in film history is examined by showings of films that influenced him, as well as films that he influenced. Visitors can make their own screen test, just like Warhol made, with the screen test machine. Special presentations include in-person appearances by visiting filmmakers and others.

One-hour group tours are led by artist educators who, as working artists, bring their own experiences to the interpretation of Warhol’s art. Weekly Good Fridays offer special music, films and performances. In addition, the performance art series Off the Wall, plus numerous concerts, run periodically throughout the year.

Elizabeth Hey

Elizabeth Hey is a member of Midwest Travel Journalists Association and has received numerous awards for her writing and photography. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook @travelbyfork.