Tenement Museum restarts outdoor walking tours

September 10, 2020

A young Tenement Museum member was treated to an advance tour after starting her own fundraising for the museum and raising $1,000. Photo by Gemma Solomons

The pandemic has taken its toll on almost every New York City museum, but the Lower East Side’s Tenement Museum has had it especially hard. Because of the cramped quarters of the historic tenement houses that make up the museum, they’ve been unable to reopen indoors. As NY1 reported in late July, the museum laid off 76 part-time employees, 71 of whom were tour guides. But there’s now a glimmer of hope for the museum that educates people on the history of immigration to New York in the 19th and 20th centuries. They will be restarting their outdoor walking tours for single household groups beginning this weekend. 

Photo by Gemma Solomons

The private walking tours will be available to same-household groups of no more than eight. The tour currently available is titled Outside the Home and looks at how Lower East Side locations including the Daily Forward Building and Seward Park were “important centers for navigating identity, advocacy, and cultural exchange.” It’s being offered on Saturdays at 11am and 2pm, starting on September 12, with tickets available to purchase through October 31, 2020 (November tickets will become available four weeks in advance). The price is $250 per household. Masks must be worn at all times by tour-goers and guides, and social distancing will be maintained.

Another tour called Building on the Lower East Side will be launching soon and will explore “how architects, activists, civic agents, and everyday people have influenced the very landscape of the neighborhood.”

As for the museum’s indoor tours and programs, which take guests through historically restored tenement buildings at 97 and 103 Orchard Street, they remain on hold. Museum president Morris Vogel previously told NY1, “Those tenements are about a world where social distancing was impossible. The tenements we’re about living in families with six, or eight, or 10 people where people weren’t able to have any privacy.”

Photo by Liz Clayman

The museum has also ramped up its virtual experiences, which include free public talks on YouTube and virtual tours, and opened its gift shop. You can learn more about the outdoor walking tours here >>


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