College-Level Virtual Experiences

Tenement Museum virtual tourimmerse students in the past through use of 360 images, video and audio recordingsand primary sources. During a live, online interactive event, a Tenement Museum Educator will share stories of families who lived in our historic buildings for an interactive, inquiry-based experience that makes history relevant.

The Tenement Museum provides opportunities to understand experiences of migration past and present, and the fundamental role newcomers play in a community, city, and nation. The museum’s two historic buildings were home to thousands of residents in the Lower East Side neighborhood in Manhattan, New York. Students explore history through the stories of real people. Immigration and migration are the foundation for all programs, and Museum Educators connect the themes of identity, community building, and cultural adaptation in programming to create entry points for students of all identities and experiences. 

Content Themes

  • Culture and Identity / Complicating Stereotypes  |  Students learn about the history of untrue narratives about different groups of people, understand how immigrants and migrants build structures of support to combat stereotypes, and hear human stories that foster connection.
  • Industrialization and Labor  |  Students learn how the development of industry creates jobs and how the people who do those jobs, often immigrants and migrants, fight to make those jobs fair. Students learn about changing technologies and their impact on the work lives of real people.
  • Immigration Policy Students learn about social, political, and economic conditions that led to various immigration policies, how those policies affected the demographics of the Lower East Side and the lived experiences of individual families.
  • Movements for Change  |  Students learn about how small actions connect to bigger movements for change and how bigger movements manifest themselves in people’s individual and family lives.

Family Tours

1910s Rogarshevsky Family  | Features the story of a Jewish American family from Lithuania who lived in 97 Orchard Street’s tenement in the 1910s. Learn about the economic and political conditions that prompted the Rogarshevsky’s to move from the Russian Empire and the immigration policies that impacted immigration at this time. Hear how the family earned a living in the garment industry, and how that work impacted their experiences at home. Students will analyze the efforts to improve working conditions through labor unions and consider how the movements of the turn of the last century connect to movements today. 

Themes: Culture and Identity, Industrialization and Labor, Movements for Change

Topics: European Immigration

Pre or Post Visit Materials & Resources: 

1930s Baldizzi Family | Features an Italian-American family from Sicily and their 1935 tenement home at 97 Orchard Street. Learn about the push and pull factors of the family’s immigration and the nativistic 1924 immigration law that created obstacles for their journey to the United States. Hear how they survived the Great Depression and explore their options for support from their community and government programs. Through exploration of the recreated apartment, oral histories, historic documents, and photographs, students will examine how the family created a home. They will learn about the various ways the family obtained support, from community connections to New York State’s Home Relief program and the New Deal. Ultimately leading to a discussion about where people go for support today and rights and responsibilities of citizens and government during times of crisis.

Topics and Themes: Complicating Stereotypes, Immigration Policy, European Immigration

Duration: 60 minutes 

Pre or Post Visit Materials & Resources: 


1950s Epstein Family  | Features a Jewish American family and their 1950’s tenement home at 103 Orchard Street. Rivka and Kalman Epstein survived the Holocaust and entered the country as refugees.  Learn about their journey from Europe to find protection and safety in the United States and the challenges presented by restrictive immigration laws and attitudes towards newcomers. By exploring their recreated home and hearing the perspective of immigration scholars, students contemplate how and why the family revived some traditions and also started new ones.  Through oral histories and videos with the daughter in the family, Bella Epstein, discover how she found support, friendship, and a sense of herself in an increasingly diverse Lower East Side neighborhood.  Students will consider how they themselves form their own senses of identity and belonging.

Topics and Themes: Immigration Policy, Complicating Stereotypes, Community, Culture and Identity  

Duration: 60 minutes 

Pre or Post Visit Materials & Resources: 


1960s Saez Velez Family  | Features a family who migrated from Puerto Rico and lived at 103 Orchard Street and their 1968 Tenement home. With the help of Puerto Rican migration scholars, learn about the history of Puerto Rico, its relationship to the United States and how it affected the Saez Velez’ journey to New York City as American citizens.  Through exploration of the recreated apartment, video interviews, family and neighborhood photos, and other primary source documents, students will examine the ways the Saez Velez family established themselves in the culturally and racially diverse Lower East Side of the 1960’s. Against the backdrop of the Civil Rights movement and Vietnam war, this tour examines how different generations of the family exercised citizenship at home, school, work, and beyond. Learn how the family’s efforts made a difference on a larger scale and reflect on their understandings of citizenship.

Themes:  Community, Culture and Identity, Jobs and Industry, Immigration Policy; Industrialization and Labor, Movements for Change

Topics: Puerto Rican Migration

Duration: 60 minutes

Pre or Post Visit Materials & Resources:

1970s Wong Family  | Features a Chinese American family and their 1970’s tenement home at 103 Orchard Street. With the help of immigration scholars, learn about the push and pull factors of Chinese immigration and its relation to the Chinese Exclusion Act and subsequent immigration laws. Through exploration of a recreated apartment and garment shop, examine how the Wong’s made a home in the neighborhood and how their experiences reflect the growth of Chinese communities and the garment industry in New York. Video interviews and family and neighborhood photographs encourage students to consider how different generations of the family navigate language, schooling, media, and work. Students can reflect on how they themselves form their own senses of identity and belonging and evaluate roles of government, schools, and other institutions to ensure openness and acceptance of many.

Themes: Complicating Stereotypes, Culture and Identity, Immigration Policy, Industrialization and Labor

Topics: Asian Immigration

Pre or Post Visit Materials & Resources:

Specialty Tours

Reclaiming Black Spaces  |Experience the Tenement Museum’s newest initiative, Reclaiming Black Spaces, which highlights stories of how Black and African Americans shaped Lower Manhattan as they made homes, businesses, and communities here over centuries. Facilitated discussion will allow students to consider questions like: Who and where were the communities that drew Black New Yorkers to Lower Manhattan? How were their experiences shaped by migration? How did those communities create a sense of home, and how did they resist the racism they faced? How did they challenge the nation to live up to its ideals? Students will explore primary source documents, photographs, and music and discuss the need to reclaim historical identities and stories that have been left out of traditional narratives.

Themes: Complicating Stereotypes, Culture and Identity, Movements for Change

Duration: 75 minutes

Pre or Post Visit Materials & Resources: 

Behind the Scenes: Exploring a Tenement |On this virtual hard hat tour, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the process and philosophy behind the Tenement Museum’s recreated historic spaces. Learn what it takes to recreate apartments from the 1860s and 1930s with before and after pictures, why some areas haven’t been recreated, and how we make choices and preservation in our historic tenement. 

Topics and Themes: Preservation, Restoration, Museum Studies, Material Culture 

Duration: 60 minutes

Pre or Post Visit Materials & Resources:

Piecing it Together  | This program looks at two families, the Rogarshevskys and the Wongs, separated by 70 years yet connected by their work in the garment industry in Lower Manhattan. Explore stories of the women in these families who sewed for a living, how this work shaped who they were, and how they affected change in their time.   

Topics and Themes: Industrialization and Labor, Movements for Change   

Duration: 60 minutes

Pre or Post Visit Materials & Resources:

Teaching Resources

We offer teacher-designed, teacher-tested lesson plans where students learn to interpret objects, oral histories, and primary sources while making modern connections. Find unit plans, lesson plans, primary sources, and non-fiction family stories, made for flexible use in your classroom.

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