Website Unveiled for Ellis Island Basque Exhibit

The Basque Museum and Cultural Center has unveiled a new website promoting its upcoming exhibit at New York’s Ellis Island.

The Ellis Island exhibit will put Basque culture on an international pedestal. Photo: Basque Museum and Cultural Center.
The Ellis Island exhibit will put Basque culture on an international pedestal. Photo: Basque Museum and Cultural Center.

The exhibit, “Hidden in Plain Sight,” will showcase Basque culture and history at one of the most popular tourist destinations in New York City. The website features an overview of Basque history in the United States and immigration from Europe. The site also has links for contributors to donate to the project.

Hidden in Plain Sight, which will run from February through April, will highlight the unique origins of the Basque people and their language, Euskera.

The exhibit will also feature information about the history of the Basques and discuss the factors that prompted them to leave their homeland. One section will be devoted to real-life stories of Basque immigrants in the United States, as well as the contributions made by Basque people here and in the Basque Country. It will be located on the third floor of the great hall where all the immigrants were processed.

A significant portion of the exhibit will afterwards be disassembled and moved to Boise, where it will be on display at the Basque Museum during the huge Jaialdi International Basque Festival in July 2010.

Millions of immigrants — including multitudes from the Basque Country — were processed through the port of entry at Ellis Island after it opened in 1892. Located at the mouth of the Hudson River and New York Harbor, the 27-acre island is now a national monument that includes Liberty Island where the Statue of Liberty is located. Today, over 40 percent of the U.S. population can trace their ancestry through Ellis Island.

Basque Government officials encouraged the Basque Museum to submit a proposal to Ellis Island in 2006. According to museum director Patty Miller, the museum followed through and applied for the temporary exhibit program and received notice on May 30 of this year that the museum’s proposal had been accepted.

For genealogical information on the passengers who passed through Ellis Island, visit this link.

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