Site: The Lower East Side Tenement Museum
The Lower East Side Tenement Museum http://www.tenement.org, inaugurated in 1988, allows visitors to walk through one of the neighborhood's few tenement buildings (originally built in 1863) that did not undergo extensive renovations. Different apartments in the building have been restored to reflect the life of actual families who once resided there. Among these is the Rogarshevsky apartment, which recreates this East European Jewish immigrant family's home while observing customs of shivah (mourning).
While most of the tours are lead by a guide, who speaks in the third person, one apartment uses the technique of two-way first-person interpretation: This "living history?" apartment is based on the Sephardic-Jewish Confino family from Kastoria, (once part of the Ottoman Empire, now in Greece). A costumed interpreter plays teenage Victoria Confino c. 1916. She welcomes visitors as though they were newly arrived immigrants, teaching them how to adapt to America. The Confino apartment is a hands-on experience: visitors can touch any items in the apartment, try on period clothing and fox trot to music played on an authentic wind-up Victrola.
Visitors are encouraged to watch a documentary television program while waiting for the tour to start. In addition, the museum creates multi-media exhibits in their storefront windows, most recently, A History of the Lower East Side in 15-minute Chapters (or) EAT/LIVE/WORK/PRAY.
The museum's website includes virtual tours, using a variety of technologies. These displays are worthy of analysis in their own right.
The Tenement Museum is committed to a multicultural representation of immigrant experience in this Manhattan neighborhood as a means of fostering interethnic tolerance.
Lower East Side Tenement Museum Encyclopedia
Lower East Side Tenement Museum Educator Training Program
Jack Kugelmass, "Turfing the Slum: New York City's Tenement Museum and the Politics of Heritage," in Hasia Diner, Jeffrey Shandler, and Beth Wenger, eds., Remembering the Lower East Side (Blooomington: Indiana University Press, 2000), pp. 179-211.
Compare the Lower East Side Tenement Museum with sites of neighborhood memory in other cities:
- Shapiro House, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
- Boston Center for Jewish Heritage
- In 1995, The Jewish Museum amalgamated with the former London Museum of Jewish Life, which is located in Finchley, North London, and was founded in 1983 as the Museum of the Jewish East End, with the aim of rescuing and preserving the disappearing heritage of London's East End, the heartland of Jewish settlement in Britain.
- South Africa Jewish Museum, Cape Town.
- District Six Museum, Cape Town.
- Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, Chicago
- Museum of Immigration and Diversity in the Spitalfields section of London
Jackson, Shannon. "Civic Play-Housekeeping: Gender, Theatre and American Reform," Theatre Journal 48, 3 (1996): 337-361.Online access through Project Muse, by institutional subscription. Please consult your library.
Shannon Jackson, Lines of Activity: Performance, Historiography, Hull-House Domesticity (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000.
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