Ellis Island Museum Collection Making Temporary Move to Maryland

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Liberty and Ellis Islands hold a special place in the life and history of New York City.

But since they were inundated and severely damaged by Sandy's 14-foot storm surge in late October, they've been off-limits to the throngs of tourists who, in normal times, flock daily to the Battery in Lower Manhattan to catch a ferry to the islands.

Unfortunately, the time-table for opening them is not anytime soon.

"At this point we don't have a handle on when the power will be restored because we haven't been able to access the area where the power infrastructure is," said Linda Friar, Chief of Public Affairs at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, which are managed by the National Park Service.

Repair crews will now will be able to step up their efforts. Over the past few weeks, Ellis Island staff along with the National Park Service Museum Emergency Response Team have carefully wrapped and boxed over one million historical artifacts and documents from the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

"The good news is none of them were damaged," said Friar.

She said maintaining the climate-controlled environment that's critical to protecting them was becoming impossible on generator power. The collection, which will still be available to researchers on a limited basis, is being transported to the Park Service's Museum Resources Center in Landover, Maryland.

Ellis Island served as the gateway to America for more than 12 million immigrants from 1892 to 1924.