Personally, I was excited to go to the Tenement Museum as History is not only one of my favorite subjects, but one of my hobbies outside of school as well. As far as the history of tenement museums, I had only seen photographs in American History textbooks. Although these photographs showed themes of poverty and squalor, they had a certain romantic aesthetic. This is what I was hoping to find on my trip to the museum.
I was a bit disappointed that we only spent a limited amount of time in what I would consider the “museum” part of the Tenement Museum. I was hoping to see much more of the building.
Still I found the one room that we did visit very interesting and I was pleasantly surprised that every part of the exhibit was within our reach and we were actually able to experience the exhibit hands-on. I enjoyed being taught the Confino method of doing laundry. Laundry is very important to me and would probably be the first thing I would worry or ask about when moving to a new place.
I found the role-playing aspect a bit contrived but I suppose that it was unavoidable. Personally, I don’t mind learning just by being told facts, but honestly I don’t know if either method, lecture or role-play, is more effective or enjoyable.
I especially found the role-playing to be excessively contrived before I knew that Victoria Confino was a real person who had lived in that Tenement. I originally thought that she was just a hypothetical character. I think it’s wonderful that they are telling a real person’s story and that the family is still involved in the telling of that story.