It’s been over 85 years since King Kong first scaled the Empire State Building in his iconic cinematic debut, and over 35 years since the ESB commemorated that moment by placing an inflatable ape on the side of the building. After several years with no ape sightings whatsoever, The Eighth Wonder Of The World has finally made his way back to New York City, where he is one of the centerpieces of a new ESB museum commemorating the history of the building.
Last August, ESB unveiled a brand-new observatory entrance at 20 West 34th Street, and the museum that opened this week (accessed through that entrance) is part of phase two of the building’s $165 million renovations. Located on the second floor, the 10,000-square-foot gallery features immersive and interactive exhibits that encompass everything from the building’s initial construction to its emergence as a pop culture landmark.
Here are the nine galleries you’ll find inside the museum, with descriptions via ESB:
- The Site in the 1920s: A black-and-white panoramic image depicts the site of the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel as construction of the Empire State Building begins. Through building surveyors, guests can look in and see the New York City streets of the late 1920s come to life in full color.
- Construction: Inspired by the photography of Lewis Hine, visitors will be transported back in time as hot rivets, and steel beams fly overhead, and the sounds of New York City come alive in surround sound. Visitors can also interact with specially commissioned cast sculptures of construction workers as they work and take their lunch break.
- Opening Day: The excitement of opening day is palpable with a newsboy announcing the opening of the Empire State Building as he sells his papers on the streets of 1930s New York City
- Modern Marvel: The Modern Marvel exhibit outlines the specific measures taken to make the Empire State Building a world leader in sustainability and a leading example in energy efficiency.
- Otis Elevators: Otis delivered the groundbreaking technology that made the towering height of ESB possible. In a dedicated exhibit, Otis showcases not only how the original elevators operated, but teaches visitors about the latest technology installed in the newest elevators, which transport more than 10 million tenants and Observatory guests each year. Visitors will also walk through a simulation of an actual elevator shaft and feel the energy created by the movement of the cars up close.
- Urban Campus: Very few visitors to the Empire State Building are aware of what goes on in the nearly 100 floors they don’t see. Urban Campus offers a glimpse into some of the major tenant spaces, amenities, and hidden views of the building as experienced by those who work there. The exhibit highlights some of these contemporary internet-age businesses, visible through peepholes that give guests an insider’s view of what these high-tech offices are like.
- World’s Most Famous Building: Set to an original score commissioned for this exhibit, more than seventy screens display highlights of ESB’s starring role in pop culture from every decade since the 1930s. Visitors from around the world will recognize the hundreds of movies, TV shows, commercials, cartoons, comic books, and video games that feature the world’s most famous building.
- King Kong: Visitors walk into an office from the 1930s where the famous, giant ape’s fingers pierce the walls as he dangles from the building and dodges vintage fighter planes. Those brave enough can even step into Kong’s hands – but beware, you might feel the power of this fearsome ape firsthand!
- Celebrity: The Empire State building is a popular destination for A-list celebrities and worldwide talent with many famous faces from around the globe visiting its world-famous 86th Floor Observatory. This exhibit highlights some of the most-famous visitors (athletes, musicians, actors) with their images and signed memorabilia adorning the walls for guests to admire as they head to the elevators that will take them to their next stop: NYC: Above & Beyond on the 80th Floor.
Sadly, there is no special commemoration of Eminem’s instantly iconic ESB performance of “Venom,” the theme song from the movie Venom, despite the fact that it is the greatest thing that has ever occurred in NYC. They have until 2068 to correct this oversight in time for the 50th anniversary of the performance.
The museum will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Get more info here.