103 Orchard Street

Tenement Museum expansion underway at 103 Orchard Street

Lower East Side Tenement Museum, 103 Orchard Street. (Courtesy Gemma Solomons)

Scaffolding has been erected around 103 Orchard Street as part of the Tenement Museum’s forthcoming expansion. Currently home to the Sadie Samuelson Levy Visitors Center on the ground floor, The Tenement Museum had been looking to expand for a while and will do so into the upper levels of the building. The Museum will also stay in its original home just down the road on 97 Orchard Street.

Speaking with The Architect’s Newspaper today, the museum’s communication manager Jon Pace said the museum was scheduled to open in July of next year and that construction work was “on course.”

In a press release from 2014, the museum stated how it served 200,000 visitors per year but was forced to turn away “many others due to space limitations.” The new space will be used to display re-created homes of past residents, combining “technology and immersive environments” in the process. Focus will also be set on Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, as well as Puerto Rican and Chinese immigrants who ventured to New York‘s Lower East Side post-World War II. The upper floors of the building will also host a visitor center, gift shop, and classrooms.

Though bought in 2007 for $7 million, scaffolding was only put in place on July 5 this year, some nine years after. Work on 103 Orchard Street currently concerns the building’s facade, with particular attention being payed to the roof. Here work is being done on the parapets and cornice. Pace said this was slated to run through until fall and that “phase two” of the construction will start with the interior with the elevator being extended to the fifth floor.

“Whether it was Asian immigrants, Irish or German émigrés, or recently arrived European Sephardic Jews, the [Lower East Side’s] tenements housed generation after generation of new arrivals to our city,” Rep. Velazquez (D-NY) said in a press release in 2014. “The museum tells their story and by allowing it to grow, we can ensure visitors continue enjoying this local historic gem.” Pace meanwhile said that further details of the exhibits are set to be released in the next few weeks.

“Our new facilities will help us tell some of America’s best untold stories,” said Tenement Museum President Morris Vogel. “We have aspirations to show how and why New York, and the U.S., became what it is today.” Vogel added: “Now more than ever, the Tenement Museum’s mission and work is deeply relevant. The story of our nation’s immigrants is America’s defining narrative, and the joys and challenges of establishing new lives and new communities continue for present-day immigrants around the world. We’re proud and excited that we’ll soon be able to explore a wider range of these stories for a larger audience.”

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