designboom explores ellis island's abandoned hospital through JR's 'unframed' artwork
 

designboom explores ellis island's abandoned hospital through JR's 'unframed' artwork

archtober is new york city’s architecture and design month, with daily events ranging from building tours and lectures by design experts, to architecture-themed competitions and parties. one of the events featured as part of the 31-day celebration is a behind-the-scenes hard hat tour of the abandoned hospital on ellis island — the site where 12 million immigrants entered the united states in the late 19th and early 20th century.

 

during the 2019 edition of archtober, designboom explored the island’s abandoned architecture, which now includes a permanent exhibition by french artist JR.

abandoned ellis island hospital
image © designboom | video © designboom

 

 

the tour of ellis island’s abandoned hospital, which runs on weekends throughout the year, is organized by untapped cities — an organization that seeks to unearth new york’s most surprising places and stories. the hard hat tour, led by a guide from the non-profit organization save ellis island, offers the chance to learn about the city’s immigration history while visiting the hospital’s contagious disease wards, autopsy rooms, and other places usually closed to the public.

abandoned ellis island hospital
image © designboom

 

 

in recent decades, ellis island has become one of the new york region’s top tourist attractions, drawing over two million visitors per year. while disembarking ferry passengers make a beeline to the great hall, more than half of the island’s historic architecture is hiding in plain sight. just to the left of the main building, and closed to the general public, is the hospital complex constructed to care for those not well enough to make their way directly into the united states.

abandoned ellis island hospital
image © designboom

 

 

the tour takes visitors through many of the abandoned structures, including the autopsy room and the original morgue. a lot of the buildings also feature art work by french artist JR, whose 2014 exhibition ‘unframed’ remains to this day. for the site specific installation, documented in more detail in the video at the top of this page, JR sourced historic photographs of ellis island immigrants and pasted the reproduced and blown up images onto the interior walls of the hospital buildings.


image © designboom

 

 

‘the ‘unframed’ ellis island project aims to bring alive the memory of ellis island, the entry point to america for millions of immigrants,’ explains JR. ‘coming from all over the world, leaving their belongings, their family and their past behind them, with the fear that they may be sent back to it, the presence of these people who have shaped the modern american identity can still be felt in the buildings, although abandoned for the past 70 years. this is the opportunity to interpret the stories of these people through art.’

 

for more details, and to book your place on an upcoming tour, visit the untapped cities website, and browse the other events taking place as part of archtober here.


image © designboom


image © designboom


image © designboom


image © designboom


image © designboom


image © designboom


image © designboom


image © designboom


image © designboom


image © designboom


image © designboom


image © designboom


image © designboom


image © designboom

 

 

project info:

 

exhibition: unframed
artist: JR
location: ellis island
visited during: archtober
tour details: untapped cities
in collaboration with: save ellis island

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