When Eleanor Sreb, of the Smithsonian Folklife Center, and Ross Holland, National Park Service Associate Director for Cultural Resources Management, approached artist Phillip Ratner to create artwork for Ellis Island, Ratner initially thought, "How do I fit the entire world into a single piece?" Ratner sat for hours on a bench in the Great Hall at Ellis Island sketching, thinking, observing--trying to capture the essence of the immigration experience. Ratner conjured up images of the millions of immigrants who passed through that Great Hall--travel weary people of all ages, creeds and nationalities who hungered for a new life in America. "I picked up the ghosts," Ratner said, "and it changed my life. I felt my grandparents' energy and that of the thousands of immigrants who passed through those halls."
Exhibits are hosted by the American Immigration Council, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to increasing public understanding of immigration law and policy and the value of immigration to American society; to promoting public service and excellence in the practice of immigration law; and to advancing fundamental fairness and due process under the law for immigrants.