A digital globe and 200,000 years of human migration

The Ellis Island Immigration Museum suffered the devastation of Hurricane Sandy firsthand. Now, more than two years after the storm struck New York City (and many other places), the building is celebrating its comeback with a new name: Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. Under this rejuvenated image, the museum will tell the story of humans moving across the entire world, rather than focusing just on those that passed through its iconic halls. Three new exhibits are going to be inaugurated on May 20th, all delivering content based on the pre- and post-Ellis Island days. One of them is the World Migration Globe, a custom-made sphere that's powered by two HD projectors and delivers a nine-minute video presentation about the 200,000 years of human migration.

"It's not just about Ellis [Island]; it's about all the people who come here and that are connected to immigration," says Clay Gish, director of writing and research at ESI Design, the firm responsible for putting together these new exhibits at the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. She adds that her team has been working on the World Migration Globe since 2008, but Hurricane Sandy delayed the production of the project. The information being projected onto the screen, meanwhile, is provided by The History Channel -- although the overall story on global migration was crafted and shaped in tandem with ESI Design and an immigration committee.

Tour: Ellis Island Museum of Immigration

It's all visuals, though; I'm told it didn't make sense to bring sound into the experience, due to the physical placement of the World Migration Globe exhibit -- around 40 feet away from the main entrance. "Audio is a really big part of how we approach these exhibits. But there was a challenge with the entry space, since students walk right in," says ESI Design's Senior Designer of Tech and Media Michael Schneider. "It's where the boats unload, so audio wouldn't have benefited. Here it was more about seeing the visual patterns of people moving across the world."

If you happen to be in Lower Manhattan or New Jersey, it's a short trip via ferry. Ticket prices range from free to $18, depending on your age or whether you're a student.