Milford company tunes visitors into the history of Lady Liberty
Steve Haas is hoping his latest piece of work will stand the test of time just like the symbolic monument it’s commemorating.
He has spent years developing acoustic programs and systems for museums at his Milford-based company, SH Acoustics, which is part of the slew of the team of companies that are telling the story of Lady Liberty to the thousands of visitors who will make their way to the new Statue of Liberty Museum on Ellis Island opening on Thursday.
“It’s so iconic in terms of its meaning and relationship to people around the world,” Haas said. “It’s emotional in a way because we know how much it means to people coming to this country for the first time.”
Roughly 4.3 million people visit the monument every year, many of them by ferry. But restrictions on the number of people allowed to enter the landmark statue have severely limited access for visitors, sparking interest in building the museum.
Two years after breaking ground, the $100 million project is set to debut. The new 26,000-square-foot museum features a trove of artifacts and interactive exhibits that Haas and his team helped develop.
SH Acoustics was brought in by the project’s designers, ESI Designs of New York, to work on the sound systems throughout the facility.
The museum is divided into three sections and features a walk-through multimedia presentation in the Immersive Theater along with an Engagement Gallery covering the statue’s construction and its place in United States culture.
Finally, the museum’s “Inspiration Gallery” will house the original torch in a glass-enclosed space offering views of Lady Liberty and the New York skyline. The original torch was swapped out in 1984 after years of weather damage and stored in the statue’s pedestal museum ever since.
Admission comes free with the ferry tickets visitors need to get to Ellis Island.
Haas said it meant a lot to be able to contribute to the project because of the landmark’s global and national importance.
“This (project) is definitely unique because it seems that everyone in the world knows the Statue of Liberty,” Haas said. “A lot of the projects we’ve worked on are maybe history museums that govern a wide range of topics relative to a particular client or institution, whereas this one is solely focused on that one iconic, symbolic statue.”
The Milford company has worked on several prestigious projects in the museum industry, including the Smithsonian’s Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Museum of the American Revolution.
“We’re definitely growing and enjoying what we do,” Haas said, adding that his team has recently branched into working on residential and corporate spaces for clients.
The company has also added broadcast studios to its line of work, playing a role in updating the facilities for the Minnesota Vikings.
While the New York-based museum isn’t the largest project Milford company has worked on, Haas said it still rivals other projects in importance.
“It’s not a humongous museum, but it’s certainly a prominent one in terms of the story it is telling of the history of the statue and all that it means to people both here and around the world,” Haas said. “That’s really what’s important about this one — to get those messages across. Whether it’s five or 5,000 people visiting, it has to impact the people the same way.”