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National Endowment for the Humanities Invites You to a Lecture on the Tenement Museum and the Story of American Immigration

black and white photo of pushcarts on Hester Street in NY, 1898
Credit:

Courtesy of the Tenement Museum

WASHINGTON (May 9, 2012) — The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) invites you to attend a free public lecture by Morris J. Vogel, President of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum entitled “Making the Jewish East Side Iconic: the Tenement Museum and the Story of American Immigration” at 6 P.M. on Wednesday, May 23 at NEH headquarters.

In honor of Jewish Heritage Month, Dr. Vogel will speak about the Tenement Museum’s unique approach to Jewish history in America and the work of the museum’s curators in researching and drawing from the particular histories of the former residents of Orchard Street in the Lower East Side to create exhibits reflective of the American immigrant experience.

“At one time, when we thought about what made this country, we talked in terms of the West or the motivations that drew the Pilgrims to a shining city on a hill, or the ideals of Constitutionalism and political liberty,” said Vogel. “All those subjects remain important. But the Tenement Museum has been part of a recent effort to include the aspirations and struggles that brought generations of immigrants to America’s shores, many of whom settled in New York City, and in the process turned the Lower East Side into the icon of immigrant America.”

The National Endowment for the Humanities has supported the Lower East Side Tenement Museum since its founding in a condemned tenement in 1988. The Tenement Museum enables visitors to forge emotional connections to the people of the past, develop an understanding of their struggles, and cultivate an appreciation for the hurdles immigrants encountered as they became Americans. One of the fastest growing cultural institutions in New York City, the museum welcomed over 175,000 visitors in 2011, including more than 40,000 K-12 students.  

Since its founding, the Tenement Museum has received numerous NEH grants, including for the preservation of the museum’s archival materials, and the implementation of permanent installations on a 19th-century sweatshop and on public health and urban sanitation. During his talk Dr. Vogel will discuss an upcoming NEH-supported exhibit at the Tenement Museum called “Shop Life” on the varieties of commerce conducted by Lower East Side immigrants, presented through a recreation of a German saloon from 1870, a kosher butcher from the 1890s, a Depression-era auction house, and an underwear discounters from the 1970s.

Dr. Vogel joined the staff of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in 2008 after serving as director of Creativity and Culture at the Rockefeller Foundation. For more than thirty years, Dr. Vogel was a professor and administrator at Temple University. He is a first generation American, born in Kazakhstan to a Jewish family who fled from Poland during World War II and later immigrated to the United States.

Please join us on May 23rd for the free public lecture and reception at NEH in the Old Post Office Building in Washington, DC. Members of the press should R.S.V. P. to Paula Wasley at pwasley@neh.gov or (202) 606-8424.

Event: “Making the Jewish Lower East Side Iconic: the Tenement Museum and the Story of American Immigration” reception and presentation by Morris J. Vogel, President of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum

Date: 6 P.M. to 7:30 P.M.; Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Location: The National Endowment for the Humanities
Old Post Office Building
1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC  20506
Room M-09 (Ground Floor)
 

Event is free and open to the public. Members of the public may R.S.V.P. to Caitlin Green: cgreen@neh.gov

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About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.

Media Contacts: Paula Wasley at (202) 606-8424 or pwasley@neh.gov