We have just added new dates for our Unframed JR Tour of the Abandoned Hospital Complex on Ellis Island for the fall season! This special tour will present the history of Ellis Island and the abandoned immigrant hospital through the site-specific art installation, Unframed. Unframed is made up of life-sized historical photographs taken on Ellis Island and put up on walls, doors, and windows throughout the complex by world-renowned artist JR. On this tour, gain access to spaces that are not even shown on our Behind-the-Scenes Hard Hat Tour and view all 26 pieces of JR’s work.

“Unframed Ellis Island” by JR, a guided tour of the exhibition inside Ellis Island’s Abandoned Hospital


  • Discover all 26 site-specific collages by the world-renowned artist JR inside the abandoned hospitals on Ellis Island from the exhibition “Unframed – Ellis Island.”
  • All artworks are life-sized archival photographs of immigrants taken on Ellis Island that reactivate this long forgotten complex. There is even one you will see pasted by actor Robert de Niro.
  • Access 10 locations in the abandoned hospital complex that are completely closed off to the public and open exclusively to attendees of this tour, including the second floor of the general hospital and the visually stunning “Blue Room”
  • Get to know the stories behind each of the photos and learn the history of the abandoned hospitals on a tour led by an expert in JR’s art on Ellis Island
  • Receive a framable 24′ x 36′ poster of one of JR’s most notable pieces at Ellis Island


Price: $119 per person. This price includes your ferry ticket to and from Ellis Island, a guided walking tour by an expert in JR’s art, and the framable poster of JR’s artwork. Your ticket also includes access to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and the grounds of the Statue of Liberty.

What to know: The tour is approximately 2.5 hours long. You will receive your ferry ticket by email in the week leading to the tour date you selected, and will need to print this ferry ticket in order to access the Statue Cruises boat which will take you to Ellis Island.

If your tour starts at 1:30pm on Ellis Island, you will need to arrive at Castle Clinton, Manhattan no later than 11:30am in order to get in line, go through the airport style security, and board the Statue Cruises boats to Ellis Island. The boat ride itself takes 45 minutes. The boat will first stop on  Liberty Island, stay on the boat and wait until its second stop which will be Ellis Island. Departure from Jersey City is also available. Taking photos is encouraged, however, tripods, unipods and video recording are not allowed. Due to the nature of the buildings, all guests must stay with the tour guide at all times. The tour is inaccessible for people using wheelchairs or powered scooters, and kids must be 10+ years-old to join. No cancellation or refunds.

How this tour differs from our Hard Hat Tour of the Abandoned Hospitals: The JR Tour is longer than the Hard Hat tour and the history of the Ellis Island hospitals is told through the lens of each artwork, led by an expert on the JR installations. You will access numerous additional spaces not available on the Hard Hat Tour, or any other public tour of the abandoned hospitals and receive a 24″ x 35″ framable poster of JR’s artwork. This tour is exclusively offered by Untapped Cities on select dates.

What to wear: Closed-toe-shoes are mandatory. Please dress appropriately for the weather, as the buildings are not climate controlled.

“Unframed Ellis Island” by JR, a guided tour of the exhibition inside Ellis Island’s Abandoned Hospital


Walking the hallways of an abandoned hospital would give anyone shivers. But what if apparitions from the past unexpectedly appeared on windows, in rooms, and staircases? Scattered within the South Side hospital complex on Ellis Island, Unframed, is an installation by world-renowned Parisian street artist JR, who installed life-size historical photographs, taken on Ellis Island, on the walls of the hospital.

On this new tour that focuses on the work of this installation, guests will have the opportunity to see all 26 works that are currently installed in the hospital. This includes exclusive access to places not open on any other public tour, including numerous different locations not offered on our hard hat tour of the abandoned hospital complex on Ellis Island or any other public tour. Join us in tracking downing JR’s beautifully haunting images while discovering the second floor of the complex and peeking inside what’s known as the “Blue Room,” among other places.

JR is known for his installations of large scale photographs in places accessible to the public like New York City’s Times Square, the Pantheon in Paris, and the favelas of Brazil. For this project, he partnered with Save Ellis Island to install life-size photos from the island’s archives to paste on the walls of the hospital, once the standard for United States medical care, and now left for decay for nearly 60 years.


“This tour was amazing…It was like having a birds-eye view of some of our ancestors coming to the US through the Ellis Island and hospital portal. The time flew….and we didn’t want it to end! JR’s images were vivid and sometimes haunting! I’ll never forget this! Jim the guide was exceptional…He knew his history, and his JR!” – Maureen M., Trip Advisor

“Unframed Ellis Island is an amazing opportunity to travel beyond the public access areas of Ellis Island and experience Islands 2 and 3 through the art of JR. Led by historians from Save Ellis Island you will take a hardhat tour like no other – see areas the public is never allowed to see – and experience the installations by famed artist JR who uses existing images from the archives of the immigrant experience to bring the walls to life. This is a bespoke tour of very small groups – our guide was extraordinary in his knowledge of the buildings, the history, the photos – this truly is an experience not to be missed. It may seem expensive but all proceeds go towards the Save Ellis Island foundation – more important than ever that we protect our history of the immigrant experience. GO!”     – Mia P., Trip Advisor


“Unframed Ellis Island” by JR, a guided tour of the exhibition inside Ellis Island’s Abandoned Hospital

See our full list of tours here!