Rebuild, Retell, Renew

In 2021, the Tenement Museum is committed to ensuring our historic tenements stay standing for another 150 years, telling the stories of Black New Yorkers in Lower Manhattan throughout history, and renewing our connection with our Tenement Museum community. Throughout the spring, leading up to our virtual gala, we’ll be sharing with you in-depth, curated content from our archives, as well as sneak peeks at what’s coming.

The old floorboards creaking beneath your feet. The familiar sight of plastic covered furniture. The stories of resilience and community that remind you of your own family history. Fans of the Tenement Museum can’t help but walk away from a tour with something important, whether it’s a lesson, a memory, or both. Check out this video from some of our gala speakers, sharing what the Tenement Museum means to them.

At this year’s virtual gala, less than a week away on April 29 at 7:30pm ET, we’re inviting everyone all over the world to come together to celebrate everything that makes the museum special, and that includes you, too.



Leslie Harris, a historian and scholar of African American Studies, explains how newly arriving immigrants in the 19th century were entering a country embattled with racism and racial tensions, and that these were issues they couldn’t be isolated from, in this sneak peek from our virtual gala on April 29.

Our new permanent exhibit sharing stories of Black history in New York City will examine the complex relationships between Black New Yorkers and immigrants in our discussions on American history and race, helping us answer the question: Why is the Tenement Museum exploring Black history?


A long time ago in 1869, there lived two Joseph Moores. Both were waiters: one was an Irish immigrant, and his story is shared on our Irish Outsiders building tour; the other was a Black man who lived in Lower Manhattan. We need to tell his story, too.

Learn more about the development of a new permanent exhibit inside our flagship historic tenement building at 97 Orchard Street, exploring the lives of Black New Yorkers in the 19th century, through the recreated home of this Joseph Moore, who moved to Manhattan in the 1860s.

At our virtual gala on April 29, you will discover how we’re bringing this period of time and the story of Joseph Moore to life! Registration is open to all for free or with a suggested donation – join us!

Learn more about Black history in Lower Manhattan now!

Explore some of our previous scholarship on the history of Black people in Lower Manhattan over the past four centuries, including previous Tenement Talks and podcast episodes!


Virtual Tenement Talk: The African Family Experience in Early New Amsterdam

A virtual program in partnership with the African Burial Ground National Monument, tracing the history of African experiences in New Amsterdam

Black and white portrait of Maritcha Lyons, a Black female educator, in formal dress

“How To Be an American” Podcast Ep 2×03: Burial Grounds

Communities don’t always have all the facts they need to reconstruct past realities, nor do institutions have all the histories to preserve the past. In this episode, we’ll uncover a Pre-Harlem World that’s been buried for more than 156 years.

Black Placemaking: Reinterpreting Lower East Side History

Our Tenement Talk from October 2019 on the importance of preserving black histories at cultural institutions.


Check out this teaser for our current preservation project! We are working hard to keep our historic tenement buildings standing for future generations and beginning construction on a new permanent apartment exhibit.

At our virtual gala on April 29, you will get a behind-the-scenes look at this massive preservation project featuring exclusive interviews with architects, engineers, specialists, and more. Registration is open to all for free or with a suggested donation – join us!

From old curry powder cans to a bagel that looks like it could’ve been thrown out yesterday, explore the history found under the floor boards in this video from Mashable:

Plans are underway on our next preservation project on the fifth floor of 97 Orchard Street. What will we find once we get started? Find out more at our virtual gala on April 29 – open to all! 

Check out some of our past preservation projects now!

Over the years, we have loved sharing stories of our preservation work – the secrets found beneath the floorboards, the stories uncovered under layers of wallpaper. Since the Museum’s beginnings, we have been working to restore, strengthen, update, build, and rebuild our historic tenements, ensuring these 19th century buildings survive well into the 21st century.


360 Video – Preserving 97 Orchard

Talking Tenement Museum Preservation With Jablonski Building Conservation

Secrets from the Privy Vault: Insights on a Tenement Rear Yard

Join us for our virtual gala on April 29 – open to all!