Report: Turmoil at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum

Posted on: May 22nd, 2013 at 9:36 am by
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Rumors are swirling about recent happenings at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum (“TM”). Apparently things are in turmoil. It appears that over the past year, several highly-dedicated and passionate employees ranging from full time to per diem at this neighborhood institution have been forced to resign, were fired or bullied until they had no option except quitting.

Facebook is apparently exploding with opinions about this recent rash of firings et. al.; here are some choice posts:

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“Scissoring museum” caught our eye, so we did some emailing, and the juicy (yet very unverified) story is that multiple staff members have reportedly engaged in intimate affairs atop historic artifacts inside 97 Orchard Street. Despite these encounters being reported to management, the alleged offenders are somehow still employed. Who said that museums were boring?!

Some other tidbits we picked up:

  • Any educator or visitor service employee who does not stick to what has been called a “script” by various department heads faces repercussions.
  • One employee was asked to sign a resignation letter written by the person who fired them so the museum could avoid paying unemployment. The employee refused.
  • So far, over 10 employees have been dismissed, forced to resign or quit by this once non-profit turned corporation (unofficially).
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[Photo: Jamie NYC]In addition to these mumblings, we are told emails are being sent to the higher-ups at the Museum. Here is one such email regarding Reverend Jen Miller, recently fired after 12 years for what has been called “insubordination”:

To Whom It May Concern:

In light of the recent, capricious and cruel firing of Ms. Jennifer (Rev Jen) Miller from your institution, I will NEVER come to your museum & also encourage friends and associates to do the same until she is rehired and duly compensated for the pain and stress that has been inflicted upon her! I am an associate and good friend to Ms. Miller & she is not only a fine and exceptional person who has ALWAYS promoted your museum as a great place to visit & patronize, but she is also a Lower East Side, NYC institution in the guise of her whimsical character, Reverend Jen, and is beloved by many!! Whatever the reason for her dismissal pales in comparison to the many years of services she has given your institution, the tireless support and sacrifices she’s made in your name and her general stature in the artistic and NYC community where she is no less than a Lower East Side treasure!! Again, you must reverse your decision or you will lose my support as well as the support of many other patrons of the arts whom love & respect Rev Jen very much and are appalled at this sad turn of events!!

Sources close to the story claim that the TM has lost its focus, its drive, and its passion for everything but money. Another anonymous tipster added, “To the Tenement Museum – don’t forget where you came from. Money may drive you to higher heights, but passion and dedication built the Museum and without it you will fall.”

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