Ellis Island Hospital Tour

Unframed JR Tour of the Abandoned Hospital Complex on Ellis Island

Experience “Unframed - Ellis Island” the site-specific art installation by world renowned French artist JR, who pasted life-size photos of immigrants throughout the abandoned Ellis Island Hospital.

Discover the extraordinary "Unframed - Ellis Island" exhibition by renown french artist JR. For this site specific art installation JR pasted on the walls of the abandoned hospital photos that were taken in the hospital a 100 or so years ago. This exclusive tour will take you to places off-limits to any other tours, including the general hospital. 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.

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 New York on select dates.

Your ticket 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.

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  • 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
  • Ellis Island hospital tour! What a great time learning about the history of the hospital! And took lots of photos! Our tour guide was knowledgeable too!

  • Ellis Island Hospital Tour - AMAZING I've always been interested in Ellis Island and this tour of the un-restored section of the Hospital wing was amazing. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and was able to give us an in depth history since he was doing some of the research for the restoration. It was a great experience and something that I can say I saw before it was completed. I highly recommend especially since some of the money goes to helping with the restoration.

  • If you are interested in the immigration history of our city and nation, this tour is not to be missed. Well worth the price.


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Know Before You Go

Where To Meet
The group meets directly on Ellis Island, at the information desk located on the ground floor of the Ellis Island Museum (adjacent to the National Park Service information desk, to your left when you enter the museum)

How To Get There
You get to Ellis Island by ferry from either Castle Clinton, Manhattan or Liberty State Park, NJ. Your ferry tickets to and from Ellis Island are included in the price of this tour, and you will receive them by email within two business days after placing your order. Please print them to board the ferry.

Departure from Castle Clinton, Manhattan:
If your tour starts at 2pm on Ellis Island please arrive at Castle Clinton, Manhattan no later than 12pm in order to get in the “reserve” line, go through the airport style security, and board the Statue Cruises ferry to Ellis Island. The boat ride itself takes 40 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 Liberty State Park, NJ:
If your tour starts at 2pm on Ellis Island you will need to arrive at Liberty State Park, NJ no later than 1pm in order to get in the “reserve” line, go through the airport style security, and board the Statue Cruises ferry to Ellis Island. The boat ride itself takes 15 minutes. Ellis Island will be the first stop.

Please note that you can use your ferry tickets interchangeably between Manhattan and NJ.

What To Bring/Wear
Closed-toe-shoes are mandatory. Please dress appropriately for the weather as the buildings are not climate controlled.

Additional Tour Notes
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.

Frequently Asked Questions

How strenuous is the tour? How much walking will we do?

This tour is easy and most people can participate.

Is there an age limit or recommendation?

Guests must be at least 10 years old to join this tour.

Who will guide our tour?

A docent trained by Save Ellis Island, the organization behind the restoration of the abandoned hospital whose fundraising efforts we help by organizing these tours.

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