Community Relationships

The Museum has established many long-standing formal and informal relationships with schools, cultural institutions, Lower East Side residents, community organizations, and local businesses. This work was beginning to take on a more intentional and formalized structure before the COVID-19 crisis interrupted those efforts. This type of connection-making allows our programming and staff to be more inclusive, strengthens our relationships with our neighbors, and helps identify alternatives to policing. To begin the work of cultivating local community relations, we have:  

  • Renewed our partnership with the American Indian Community House (AICH)exploring ways to collaborate on programs hat centers American Indian voices, histories and experiences, as well as shared use of virtual and physical space 
  • Reviewed our current strategies for calling 911 and engaging police 
  • Established a connection to a NYPD Neighborhood Coordinator to explore alternatives to policing  


The long-term goals of the Community Relations Working group are to establish a coalition of local settlement houses and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) organizations through which we create a regular series of low-cost and/or free accessible programming, develop comprehensive de-escalation training and new protocols for police involvement, and build relationships with with BIPOC scholars and communities to support the expansion of more inclusive and accessible program content. 

  • In partnership with the American Indian Community House, we published a blog post featuring Native artists and makers. The collaboration was featured in the Tenement Museum’s January newsletter as well as on both organizations’ social media feeds.   
  • In an effort to connect with Lower East Side seniors, who have been particularly impacted by the pandemic and experienced increased isolationwe have reached out to neighborhood settlement houses with senior centers to offer a series of free virtual programs.  
  • We’ve built on our partnership with the American Indian Community House  
  • In November we co-hosted a virtual Tenement Talk exploring the life of Richard Oakes and his role in the Red Power Movement 
  • We’re collaborating on a forthcoming piece for the Museum blog and social media accounts featuring Native makers and artisans and their work  
  • The discussion continues about alternatives to police 
  • We’ve been testing the 311 App’s Outreach Request feature and connecting with Downtown Goddard for support with encounters with people who are homeless 
  • We’re seeking staff feedback to establish protocols for calling 911 for frontline staff 
  • Partnered with LES artist collective, Illegal Art for a participatory-based public art project on Orchard Street, offering a free engagement experience for the neighborhood    

After spending much of the first three months addressing the Museum’s anti-racism commitments goal setting and working to establish sustainable paths forward, we’ve focused the last three months prioritizing those goals and taking action in those identified areas. Led by our established working groups, we looked at where some of this work was already in progress (equitable hiring practices) and what felt most urgent (alternatives to using the police). In December, the Museum underwent additional staff reductions as we continue to respond to this unprecedented time, decreasing the numbers of staff members who were actively engaged in these projects. With that said, we recognize that doing the work to live up to our anti-racism statement and commitments is a long game and the Museum is committed to continuing to push forward.

  • Deepen our relationships with neighborhood settlement houses to learn more about how the Museum can serve its longstanding LES neighbors
  • Follow-up with the contacts provided by the NYPD Neighborhood Coordinator to develop new staff response guides and training materials
  • Identify opportunities to boost community organization programs, news, and content through the Museum’s media platforms
    • Reconnected with AICH to learn how we can help bolster their programming that centers American Indian voices, histories and experiences