Tenement Museum Expands in Lower East Side
Michael H. Miller July 26, 2011, 2:33 p.m.
The Lower East Side Tenement Museum will expand across the street to 103 Orchard with its Sadie Samuelson Levy Immigrant Heritage Center, according to a press release. The new space will serve as a visitor center and will also be home to “state-of-the-art smart classrooms,” a decidedly modern shift for a museum devoted to preserving the memory of immigrants through its tours of its current building, the old tenement at 97 Orchard Street.
“One of the things this building will allow us to do even better is to treat those memories with even more of the respect they deserve,” Morris Vogel, the museum’s president, told The Observer.
The new building is a triple front tenement from 1888 that was “badly constructed,” according to Mr. Vogel. The museum purchased the building in 2007, and after spending about 18 months restoring it, the new space will open in the next few weeks. Last year, 173,000 people visited the Tenement Museum.
The expansion is characteristic of the Lower East Side’s art and museum scene, which is quickly increasing in size and scope.
“The museum’s program is about how immigrants came to use this neighborhood and how they transformed it,” Mr. Vogel said of the ever-changing neighborhood. “So the story we tell is the story of a neighborhood that was continually evolving—from early farmland, to construction of single family homes, to the building of tenements in the mid 19th century, it’s been one change after another. We tell the story of those changes. So it’s a neighborhood where we’re going to assume these changes are going to continue to happen. It reinforces the importance in what we do in our mission.”