Earlier this month, President Obama signed legislation designating the Tenement Museum’s building at 103 Orchard St. as an affiliated site of the National Park Service. Another museum property, 97 Orchard St., has been an affiliated site of the Park Service since 1998.
The “Lower East Side Tenement National Historic Site Amendments Act” was part of a larger bill passed by Congress several weeks ago. Co-sponsors included Rep. Nydia Velazquez, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Rep. Peter King, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. “Whether it is Chinese immigrants, Italian Americans, Eastern European Jews, or the Puerto Rican migration experience, immigration and diversity are integral parts of New York’s story,” said Velázquez in a recent press release. “By retelling the stories of those immigrant communities that made the LES home, this museum is an important local gem and a resource for city residents and tourists alike.”
Back in January, the museum announced an $8 million expansion into the upper floors of 103 Orchard St. The ground floor currently serves as a visitor center and gift shop, while rental apartments fill the upper floors. The expansion will create a new 10,000 square foot exhibition space dedicated to telling the stories of Chinese immigrants, Jewish holocaust survivors and Puerto Rican immigrants after World War II. Previously, the museum indicated work would begin on the new exhibits in 2016.
The legislation does not include financial support, but it’s a prestigious designation that will, no doubt, aid the museum’s fundraising campaign in support of the project. The Park Service has awarded the Tenement Museum grant money in the past.