Preserving 97 Orchard Street

We’re beginning a long-planned construction project on 97 Orchard Street, preserving it for the next generation of visitors. Read more about what this project entails, what it means for museum visitors, and how you can become involved!

What are we doing?

97 Orchard Street wasn’t built to be a museum, and as our founders began collecting and sharing family stories, they also began important preservation work to make the building accessible to visitors. This has been an ongoing process, especially as our homes, hallways, and staircases have welcomed well over a million visitors over the last 30 years! This preservation project will open up the 5th floor of the building and launch a new permanent exhibit that shares the story of Joseph and Rachel Moore, a Black family who lived in a Lower Manhattan tenement in the 1860s. This project will also ensure that we can continue to welcome new generations of visitors to our beloved tenement to build learning, connection, and empathy through the stories of our tenement families.

In the coming months, while 97 Orchard Street is under construction, we are temporarily moving our recreated apartment exhibits to new locations both on and off the Museum campus so we can continue to honor and share the stories of our tenement families, their challenges and triumphs with our visitors.

The Rogarshevsky family in front of 97 Orchard Street in the early 1900s
Josephoine Baldizzi confirmation photo circa 1925

Where are they moving?

We are temporarily moving the apartment exhibits of the Baldizzi, Levine, Moore, and Gumpertz families to our tenement at 103 Orchard Street, while the Rogarshevsky and Confino families will be temporarily housed in an apartment exhibit at the historic Educational Alliance’s Manny Cantor Center, a vital Lower East Side institution for more than 100 years. Of note, both of these buildings would have played a central role in the lives of residents at 97 Orchard Street. Our 103 Orchard Street historic landmark building housed friends and neighbors who would have walked the same streets, shopped at the same markets, and attended the same schools. The Educational Alliance, a local settlement, was a place where residents of both 97 and 103 Orchard Street learned English, took sewing and art classes, and more.

We have painstakingly recreated our new “sublet” apartment exhibits to match the apartments of our tenement residents. We’ve installed walls, cleaned up 100-year-old linoleum, sourced all the right wallpaper patterns, and are packing up and moving their belongings to represent the tenement apartments where our residents navigated new chapters of their lives.

We’re excited to welcome you to these new exhibits! Our sublets are not only enabling us to continue to share the stories of our tenement families, but also are providing new opportunities to compare and contrast their stories and explore our wider Lower East Side neighborhood. Tenement residents have always lived a lot of their lives outside their apartments. Our updated tours will take you onto the same streets that our families walked, to explore how the neighborhood served as a community and home over the centuries. We explore how our families interacted with neighbors, new businesses, community organizations, architectural changes, and more. Temporarily stepping outside of 97 Orchard Street, will enable us to explore new connections between our families, and the Lower East Side, enriching the stories of our residents and of New York City.

How can you become involved?

Come visit our new sublets and experience the history of our tenement families and our neighborhood in new ways!

Explore the Apartment Exhibits

Neighborhood Walking Tours

Day in the Life: 1911

Walk the same streets as the Rogarshevsky family did in 1911 before visiting their recreated tenement apartment exhibit at the Manny Cantor Center. Explore the neighborhood through their eyes as they balanced tradition, work, and fun on the Jewish LES.

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Apartment Tours

Day in the Life: 1933

Step into the life of the Baldizzi family in 1933. Visit their recreated home inside our 103 Orchard Street tenement, then travel out into the neighborhood to explore their community and how they were getting by during the Great Depression.

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Visit the recreated tenement homes of the Gumpertz and Wong families, who lived on the same block of Orchard Street in the 1870s and the 1970s. Discover how ideas of American identity created different trajectories for Chinese and German immigrants.

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Upcoming Tours

New! Day in the Life: 1902 | Join us on a combination apartment and walking tour exploring the life of the Levines, a Jewish immigrant family, during the momentous Kosher Meat Boycott of 1902, which both divided and united Jewish Lower East Siders. Coming mid-August.

Note: An alternate Day in the Life: 1902 is currently available.

Working Women: 100 Years Apart | Visit the recreated tenement homes of the Gumpertz and Wong families, who lived on the same block of Orchard Street in the 1870s and the 1970s. Natalie Gumpertz, who arrived from Germany, and Mrs. Wong, from China, were both immigrant mothers who worked in the garment industry, separated by a century.

Coming early August.

Our Supporters

The preservation of our historic landmark tenement at 97 Orchard Street is being made possible by Acton Family Giving, American Express, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, The Felicia Fund, the Preservation League of NYS, Samuel Freeman Charitable Trust, the Zegar Family Foundation, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

Our new Joseph and Rachel Moore exhibit is being made possible by the City of New York, The Hearst Foundations, the Mellon Foundation, the Zegar Family Foundation, and The National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom.