Thursday, July 25, 2013

the tenement museum

Remember that directed study I mentioned briefly? Well, research is heating up in "how culture fosters collaboration in places of ethnic conflict". And! I just realized that there's one last part of our New York visit I haven't yet shared: the Tenement Museum.
The directed study came about because, last minute, I was unable to enroll in the three-week summer course I'd planned on taking to complete my degree (besides a thesis, of course). It was my solution to still studying the topic at hand, sitting in on most classes, and making it home in time for Deanna's graduation and Laura's wedding. I'm stressed about finishing it, but thank god it was approved.
The visit to The Tenement Museum came about because my good friend Sofia had raved about it so. Little did I expect our Friday afternoon on the Lower East Side to develop my directed study so thoroughly. It all started with a friendly art gallery owner...
Then we ventured down to 103 Orchard Street to pick up our tickets for the Irish Outsiders tour. As we waited in the Visitors Center, we enjoyed sifting through the gift shop and managed to squeeze in most of their original documentary, "An American Story". We soaked up every detail. Marcus was especially thrilled to discover the early influence Germans had had in the diverse neighborhood.
"They imagined a new type of space, which they called a ‘Site of Conscience', defining this as museums that made three commitments: to interpret history through a site, to engage in programs that stimulate dialogue on pressing social issues today, and to share opportunities for public involvement in those issues … operat[ing] at the intersection of historic preservation, human rights citizen engagement, education, and the arts,” (Ševčenko 114, Cultures and Globalization: Heritage, Memory and Identity).
Liz Ševčenko is referring to the Tenement Museum in the above citation (in addition to the Gulag Museum in Russia, the Slave House in Senegal, and Memoria Abierta in Argentina), and, my professor edited the book her article comes from. In other words, the one museum I happened to go to for the very first time while I was home a few weeks ago, supports my directed study thesis perfectly. Love when things work out like that. Now, please go make a reservation for a tour at the Tenement Museum so I can get back to being studious :). It's an amazing experience for New Yorkers and New-to-New Yorkers alike. Promise!

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