The Lower East Side's beloved Tenement Museum is reopening its doors after more than a year—and it's celebrating with a big bash right on Orchard Street.
The block party kicks off at noon on Saturday, June 12, with live entertainment, giveaways and brand-new walking tours, including "Reclaiming Black Spaces," which will tell stories of how Black and African Americans shaped Lower Manhattan over the centuries.
On June 12, neighbors and visitors to the area can stop by to see a live mural painting by artist Jia Sung with Assembly for Chinatown, musical and spoken word acts from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, and a performance by legendary jazz and rock musician Juma Sultan—one of the founders of Studio We. Other institutions such as the Museum of Eldridge Street, the North American Indigenous Center of New York, Cafe Katja and the Pickle Guys will also be in attendance.
The new walking tour, "Reclaiming Black Spaces," will leave from the block party and stop at the former downtown New York office of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), which fought for Civil Rights in the 1960s, the firehouse desegregated by Wesley Williams in 1919, who became the FDNY’s first Black lieutenant, and the M’Finda Kalunga Community Garden, which was named in memory of the second 18th century African American burial ground that was located on nearby Chrystie Street.
The museum's hope is to share what drew Black New Yorkers to the area and how their experiences were shaped by moving to the Lower East Side, how they created a home there and how they resisted racism. It's all about telling a more complete story of NYC, the museum says.
"As a museum that tells stories of migration and American identity, we must continue to uncover stories that have been historically excluded from the larger stories of the United States," it says. "To move toward a more just and equal future, we must look at how all of our stories are intertwined, past and present. We must fill in gaps in our collective knowledge, and we must understand why those gaps exist."
Once the Tenement Museum opens back up in June, you can take a building tour and walking tour every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 11am to 5pm. Those doing tours inside the buildings will need to show proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID test taken at least 72 hours prior to their scheduled visit.