Sisters in Liberty:

From Florence, Italy to New York, New York

The exhibition “Sisters in Liberty explores the intersection between the ideas that inspired two monumental statues of Liberty: Liberty of Poetry, by Pio Fedi in the church of Santa Croce in Florence, Italy, in 1883 and Frédéric Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty, which was inaugurated in New York in 1886. The visitors will discover and interact with the symbols, voices and heroes of liberty and free-thinking. A key objective of the experience is the exploration of the long-standing cultural ties between Italy and the United States through themes of art, architecture, liberty, poetry and the human condition.

Through an innovative collaboration with the Kent State University, a state of the art 3D replica of Fedi’s Liberty was created, in addition to “The Listening Wall“, an interactive tool which allows users to view historical documents, oral histories, and multimedia stories centered on the themes of the exhibit and then to create and share their own poetic reflections.

Two Liberties
Now until September, 2020 Sisters in Liberty is accessible free of charge to all the visitors of the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, in the temporary exhibition gallery located on the 3rd floor.
The exhibition is curated by Giuseppe De Micheli and Paola Vojnovic (Opera di Santa Croce) and by Ann and David Wilkins (Duquesne University Program of Rome). The project is made possible by donations from institutions and individuals.

Mayor support provided by American Express and Four Seasons Hotel Firenze.

Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration


Opera di Santa Croce in collaboration with the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, New York

October 18, 2019
to September, 2020

Two Liberties


In Italy, during the 1860s, the sculptor Pio Fedi was designing a magnificent tomb with a figure of the Liberty of Poetry to honor Giovanni Battista. Niccolini, a poet who had inspired and supported the Risorgimento, the Italian struggle for self-determination.


The Niccolini monument was inaugurated with a great public celebration in 1877 at the Florentine church of Santa Croce, known as the Temple of the Italian Glories as it is the burial site for some of Italy’s most prominent figures, including Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli.


Simultaneously in the 1870s, Frédéric Bartholdi, a French sculptor, envisioned a great gift to the American people in honor of the centennial of American independence.


His figure of Liberty Enlightening the World, commonly known as the Statue of Liberty, was inaugurated in New York harbor in 1886.

Both statues bear a significant physical resemblance to each other, as well as a symbolic connection. The Liberty of Poetry was made to represent creative freedom and freedom from foreign occupation, while the Statue of Liberty has long been a symbol of freedom and independence for the American people. However, whether Bartholdi and Fedi ever met or whether they knew of each other’s vision of liberty remains an unknown. Many believe that Bartholdi was inspired by Fedi’s drawings when he was in Florence in the 1860s during the Franco-Prussian War.

Listening Wall

The Ellis Island exhibit showcases one of Kent State University’s newest digital creative tool: the Wick Poetry Center’s Listening Wall. It provides a creative exploration of the relationship between Italy and the United States, incorporating the themes of art, architecture, liberty, and the human condition, and allows users to respond to historical documents, oral histories, and multimedia stories centered on community issues and themes.

The Listening Wall offers a new model for community engagement, connecting present voices with the past, providing a platform for creative and inclusive conversation.

Press Review

Da Firenze a Ellis Island cugina Libertà

Web article: Ansa Viaggi Art

Opera di Santa Croce, a New York l’inaugurazione del progetto espositivo Sisters in Liberty

Press article: Ag Cult

See the Statue of Liberty’s Italian Sisters – and possible inspiration – in a special exhibit on Ellis Island

Web article: Forbes

Il mattino di Radio 1 (minute 16.15)

Podcast: RaiPlayRadio

Firenze va a New York con la gemella di Liberty

Press article: La Repubblica Firenze

Sorelle per la libertà. La statua gemella di Lady Liberty in mostra a New York. Da Firenze

Press article: Artribune

Firenze e New York più vicine, con le Sisters in Liberty

Press article: Exibart

Leading Culture Destinations 2020: due nomination italiane agli Oscar del turismo culturale

Press article: Artribune

Leading Culture Destinations 2020, a Sisters in Liberty la nomination per l’Oscar dei musei

Press article: Ag cult

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