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Podcast to Explore the Notion of "Being American"

Museum Announces Podcast Series: ‘How to Be American’

February 26, 2019

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February 20, 2018, New York, NY—The Tenement Museum today released a trailer and announced the launch date of its first ever internally produced podcast series, titled ‘How To Be American’.

The six episode series, each of which will be released biweekly starting February 20th, will explore the incredibly complex and ever-changing question: “How do I fit in to America?” at a time when immigration and the American identity are at the forefront of the national conversation.

Each episode of ‘How To Be American’ will explore a different facet of the American identity, from food to music to the actual process of immigrating and acquiring citizenship, revealing how the notion of “being American” has evolved, in leaps and bounds, as well as in glacially-slow shifts, over the course of our nation’s history. Each episode will feature interviews with preeminent historians, scholars, chefs as well as with everyday people, interweaved with stories from the Tenement Museum’s programs, its archives, and from Your Story, Our Story: the Museum’s crowdsourced digital storytelling platform, which enables anyone from anywhere in the world to submit their own story of movement, across countries and/or borders.

How To Be American’ is hosted by Brendan Murphy, an Education Manager at the Tenement Museum, who has spent seven years at the Tenement Museum engaging in conversation about the United States’ past and present.

“‘How to be American’ explores just how complicated being an American actually is, even in ways that we might not recognize. We hope listeners will return to their classrooms, offices, and kitchen tables with curiosity and questions, both about this country and about their own personal stories,” said Brendan. The definition of “American” is as malleable as ever, and it’s amazing what we can discover when we ask ourselves not, “Am I American?” rather “What makes me American?”

The podcast is a natural extension of the Museum’s core programming, providing people who may never set foot in the Lower East Side or New York with the opportunity to engage with the Museum’s trademark-storytelling approach to immigration education. ‘How To Be American’ also serves to enrich the experience of the Museum’s ‘on-the-ground’ visitors, as by listening to the podcast visitors will hear exclusive content that compliments and expands on the stories told on the Museum’s world-renowned apartment and neighborhood walking tours.

The podcast is also a key component of the of the Museum’s brand new digital strategy, a portfolio of offerings that aims to reach millions of people beyond the walls of the Museum. These offerings, which range from digital video content to utilizing platforms like Google Arts & Culture, is part of the Museum’s broader strategic plan, launched in 2018 upon the arrival of the Museum’s third President, former Obama Administration Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education, Kevin Jennings.

Under Jennings’ direction, the Museum aims to dramatically expand the reach and impact of its programming from hundreds of thousands to millions of visitors, both on-site and digitally. At a time when immigration is a front page issue, the cause of the recent government shutdown, the Museum believes its trademark storytelling approach to immigration will help reshape the narrative on immigration in this country from one of fear to one of respect and admiration.

“The Tenement Museum’s superpower is its storytelling approach to educating the public about the experiences of immigrants, past and present,” said Jennings.  “The longform storytelling format of a podcast is a perfect medium for the Tenement Museum to capture our world-class tour experience digitally and reach people across the country with our core message that immigrants helped build and continue to help build this country,’ said TM President Kevin Jennings.

About the Tenement Museum

At a time when immigration is at the center of our national conversation, the Tenement Museum is more relevant than ever. Since 1988, the Museum has forged emotional connections between visitors and immigrants past and present, through educator-led tours of its historic tenement buildings at 97 and 103 Orchard and the surrounding neighborhood, enhancing appreciation for the vital role immigrants play in shaping the American identity. The Museum has become one of New York City’s preeminent cultural and educational institutions, welcoming more than 250,000 visitors, including 55,000 students, each year. The Museum now aims to use every medium at its disposal to dramatically increase the impact of its programming—reaching millions not thousands– with its message of how immigrants built and continue to build America.