10. Federal Hall is Undergoing a Major Restoration Effort that Has Included the Commission of Art Installations
In 2015, Federal Hall was named a National Treasure. In 2016, a major restoration effort was announced, and $300,000 was set towards the preservation of the historical building. The work will include restoring bronze elements on the exterior, repairing dilapidated front steps, and adding architectural lighting.
The Federal Hall receives 200,000 visitors a year, but this number is dwarfed by the 15 million who pass by its doors each year. The National Park Service hopes to reestablish the Federal Hall’s position of importance in the public eye. The slogan “This Place Matters” has been a rallying cry for those attempting to preserve the building’s history and elevate its status and relevance.
Plans for the restoration that are currently in progress include a collaboration with museum and media firm Ralph Applebaum Associates, which organizes lectures, debates, media, and art performances in the space. A panel called the “Great Debate” has also been commissioned and is designed to foster discussions about the state of American democracy. Federal Hall’s Public Awareness Campaign, another major work in progress, has already managed to raise visitation by 45% in the summer of 2016.
The Hall was the location of Portal 2016, a street art installation that featured everyday street objects like signs, fire hydrants, wastebaskets, and more, made out of paper maché by the artist Will Kurtz. Portal was organized by 4heads, the team behind Governor’s Island Art Fair, and it was the first ever art installation inside the hall. Kurtz is working on a series of art pieces modeled after objects one might find on any given street in New York, such as benches from Brighton Beach.
Today, the building is a museum open to the public.