Tenement Museum Prepares for Contemporary Immigrant Exhibit, yet Remains Opposed to LES Historic District

Posted on: August 19th, 2016 at 9:35 am by
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The Tenement Museum is high on recent coverage of its forthcoming exhibit. One that speaks to a more contemporary history of the block.

Starting next summer, the upper floors of 103 Orchard Street (aka 81 Delancey) will offer a glimpse of more modern life at this corner of the Lower East Side (i.e. “Your Story, Our Story”). Even as the decades-old institution – one that champions preserving immigrant histories – continues to oppose grassroots efforts to more globally preserve the area as a landmarked Historic District.

As a prelude to the installation, the Tenement Musuem unveiled a shiny new multimedia website to deep dive into the background of 103 Orchard. The pages are rich with information, glossy photos, and video testimonies. The New York Times also published a long-read on the subject.

This is the most modern period the museum has covered, said Annie Polland, the museum’s senior vice president for programs and education. “People think of the Lower East Side in 1900 and they think about it today with bars and art galleries,” Ms. Polland said. “We’re showing these decades that no one’s talked about and yet were so important for so many people.”

The Epsteins and the Wongs came amid changes in United States policy that admitted, in the 1940s, small numbers of refugees who were survivors of the Holocaust and, in the 1960s, Chinese immigrants. Mr. Velez arrived in a wave of Puerto Rican migration in the 1950s that altered the complexion of the city. They were all connected by the fabric of the Lower East Side: Each family had one parent working in the garment industry.

Then make sure you tell the Tenement Museum to stop courting developers and embrace real preservation.

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