Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight: Tamer Mahmoud

Family portrait Tamer Mahmoud


Tamer with his sister and mother, at the original South Street Seaport c. 1996-1997. This is one of his favorite photos.

Tamer Mahmoud

Staten Island, NY

Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m a first-generation Arab-American whose family story is nearly four decades old. My parents immigrated from Egypt in the mid-1980s and settled on Staten Island. My mother started out working on the Staten Island Ferry at the cafe, then went to Chase Manhattan Bank where she worked in the mail room before retiring and focusing on her new full-time role of being a mother to me and later my younger sister. She went on to work as a full-time home health aide for about 12 years before retiring for good at the onset of the pandemic. My father spent most of his working life in the fast food/casual dining space, with a decade stint at the Department of Consumer Affairs before returning to casual dining and then retiring for good.

With a BBA in Finance from CUNY Baruch College and an MBA in International Business from Wagner College, I’m currently a Senior Media Buyer at an ad agency.

I’m an avid student of history and I think studying history helps to understand not only the past, but its impact on the present and the future. It’s important to know the overarching story of how things came to be and what culminated in the events of today and that especially holds true when studying the immigrant experience.

How long have you been a member of the Tenement Museum?
Going on 2 years now — Been a frequent visitor for about 4-5 years now.

What drew you to the Tenement Museum?
I’m a student of history and, up until a few years ago, I wasn’t totally familiar with NYC immigrant history and I always wondered what kind of museum a Tenement Museum was like. My curiosity drew me to this museum and it’s been a great learning experience ever since.

Does the Museum make you reflect on any of your family stories?
My family history is rather more recent. Parents immigrated to the United States from Egypt in the mid-1980s, but their stories starting out here is not that much different from those of the immigrants from the late 19th and early to mid-20th Century. It was about the promise and chance to succeed here and provide a better opportunity for themselves and ultimately their children.

Do you have a favorite Tenement Museum tour or program?
All of the programs offered by the museum are great and each one provides unique experiences and lessons that help tell the immigrant story.

What does the Museum mean to you?
It’s an important institution that works to preserve an important part of American history and the American experience. It’s an essential reminder of the sacrifices immigrants have made for their children and children’s children and the better of America.

What are some other cultural institutions that you frequent or support?
The New York Historical Society, The MET, and Ellis Island Museum just to name a few.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
The Tenement Museum is taking on greater importance in this day and age where we need to acknowledge not only the impacts immigrants have on the country, but the contributions they make to society. Immigrants then, just like today, came here for better opportunities that they couldn’t afford back home or to escape persecution. It’s important for everyone to remember where they come from and how their ancestors came here.