Hard Hat Tour of the New Tenement Museum Visitor’s Center

Posted on: March 2nd, 2011 at 12:21 pm by

Armed with the slogan “Revealing the past, challenging the future,” the Tenement Museum is on the precipice of opening its high-profile visitor’s center at 103 Orchard Street.  The conversion project is more than two years in the making.  Demolition crews were first spotted clearing the remnants of decades-old women’s boutique Klein’s of Monticello back in August 2008; the plywood sidewalk shed arrived on scene in April 2010, forever obscuring the immigrant gate mural. If all goes according to plan, the ambitious $6 million Sadie Samuelson Levy Immigrant Heritage Center will finally launch on June 24 after numerous delays due to “existing conditions.”

This image has been archived or removed.

Yesterday morning, the Tenement Museum hosted an informational “hard hat tour” to limited press and board members alike.  The 11,000 square-foot visitor’s center remains an active worksite in every sense of the word.  Contractors were milling about, referencing blueprints.  Randomly-placed dumpsters brimmed with twisted metal and dusty debris.  And there were foot traps everywhere.

This image has been archived or removed.

Nevertheless, we obliged and chose to view the in-progress space with the group led by museum president Morris J. Vogel.  Entering through the jokingly-branded “Your Name Here Education Center,” the first stop was the 3,000 square-foot ground level, which will house an expanded gift shop and an orientation theater for groups.  Where plastic now obscures the outside environment, new glass will soon take place “to invite the world into what had been a dead corner.”  Meanwhile, many of the load-bearing columns and original-era brickwork will remain exposed as artifacts.  This retail space alone triples the footprint across the way at 108 Orchard Street, which is actually under lease until 2014 (the museum is looking to sublet, $100,000 per year).

This image has been archived or removed.

Next stop was the basement, where the faint rumbling of the JMZ subway trains could be heard.  Accessible now via precarious stairway, the subterranean level feels cramped.  Probably due to the low ceilings.  The original plans called for a service area and bathrooms alongside a suite of classrooms, but the latter was nixed due to the exorbitant costs it would require to enlarge the space.

This image has been archived or removed.

And then up to the second floor, which is still earmarked for three classrooms, including a demo kitchen which will be utilized to teach immigrant food traditions. The space will offer more room to house the Tenement Talks series and other exploratory programs.  All in all, the hope is really to offer more substantive programming for museum goers, but especially to student visitors.  Vogel stated that 44,000 K-12 students currently visit each year, and that the new center will likely increase that number to more than 60,000.

This image has been archived or removed.

The Wall Street Journal also has more on the Sadie Samuelson Levy Immigrant Heritage Center in today’s publication.

This image has been archived or removed.

[August 2008]

Recent Stories

Queen Andrea is the Next Muralist Painting the Bowery Wall

The Bowery Mural Wall is ready for its next muralist. Unknown until now. Thursday morning, the canvas was whitewashed to erase the prior mural painted by Bronx-based Tats Cru. Hours later, the site was epically tagged into submission by Pork New York. In a broad daylight walk-by. We can reveal that the next in line […]

The ‘Prestige’ of Tagging the Bowery Mural Wall

The four-month tenure of Tats Cru at the Bowery Mural Wall has concluded. A change of the guard is happening as we speak. The Wall was whitewashed yesterday. And it didn’t take long at all for a tagger to go big with spray-paint script spelling “Prestige.” Whomever is behind it left a trail of paint […]

65-Year-Old Man Jumps to His Death from 6th Floor of Seward Park Co-op

A 65-year-old resident of the Seward Park Co-op reportedly leaped to his death early Tuesday morning. According to the police report, the man jumped from the window of his sixth-floor apartment at building 4, west of Clinton. Officers from the 7th Precinct responded at 7:47am, and found him unconscious at the scene. Further investigation into the […]

Open Call for Muralists to Decorate First Street Green Art Park

Centre-fuge, whose popular art trailer was deposed last summer after seven years, is seeking muralists to paint part of the First Street Green Art Park. The group put out the official request for proposals yesterday morning. There are seven fence-canvases available for the taking. Artwork is curated on a rotating basis, so this next batch […]

Mulberry Market Signage Goes up in Little Italy

Months delayed, the forthcoming Mulberry Market finally has something to show for itself. Store signage was installed yesterday above the entrance to the highly-anticipated supermarket (stylized as MulberryMARKET). The new marketplace is apparently a “family business” that is years in the making. It replaces the decades-old MET Food, which was unable to negotiate favorable lease […]