Museum’s Role in Community

The Tenement Museum: Mission and Contributions to the NYC Community

Through the historic site at 97 Orchard Street and its newly-constucted visitors’ center down the block, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum strives to:

‘preserve and interpret the history of immigration through the personal experiences of the generations of newcomers who settled in and built lives on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, America’s iconic immigrant neighborhood; forge emotional connections between visitors and immigrants past and present; and enhance appreciation for the profound role immigration has played and continues to play in shaping America’s evolving national identity.’

The Museum currently offers nine interactive and guided exhibits, including:

    • tours within restored apartments and businesses, depicting the lives of immigrants who lived and worked on Orchard Street between 1869 and 1935

    • the chance to converse and interact with residents who lived in 97 Orchard Street through costumed interpreters

    • walking tours around the Lower East Side that reveal the myriad of changes the neighborhood has undergone over time and further explore immigrant life i.e. through the foods they consumed



In line with its goal to promote discourse on immigration, The Tenement Museum also has an extensive collection of historical archives and provides a variety of educational programs:


With a focus on current exhibits, the Museum hosts weekly Tenement Talks – free readings, discussions, performances and screenings about New York’s history, people and culture – at its visitors’ center

The Museum runs unique and innovative  ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) workshops – a program dubbed ‘Shared Journeys’ – utilizing tenement history to help students place their own immigration experience within a broader historical and political framework, and foster critical engagement with civic issues. Shared Journeys consists of six educational workshop classes. Each workshop includes a tour of a restored apartment within the tenement, and a discussion about the connections between immigrant experiences past and present. The Museum also offers High School Shared Journeys, a workshop series specially designed for a younger audience seeking transitional bilingual education, dual language, and ELL classes. In each of the workshops, students tour the museum’s historic tenement building, learn new English vocabulary words, and participate in discussion activities about their own immigrant experiences.

The Museum also offers full- and half-day professional development workshops for K-12 teachers. These workshops can include tours of 97 Orchard Street and of the Lower East Side neighborhood, and were developed in keeping with the goals of national and New York State learning standards. Each workshop is paired with a session exploring ways to incorporate primary sources, multiple perspectives, and narrative in the curriculum, as well as methods to use history to explore contemporary issues.



In addition, the Museum offers a number of resources on its website ranging from a virtual tour of the museum, primary sources for students, lesson plans on immigration for educators, to online immigration games, and a webcomic documentary about immigrant life in today’s NYC – all ways in which the Museum strives to connect to and provoke thought amongst a broad audience.



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