The heart of the museum is a historic tenement, home to an estimated 7,000 people from over 20 nations between 1863 and 1935. The tenement’s cramped living spaces, the lives of past residents and the history of the Lower East Side, contribute to its representation of the immigrant experience. They faced challenges we understand today: making a new life, working for a better future, starting a family with limited means.
In recognizing the importance of this seemingly ordinary building, the Tenement Museum has re-imagined the role that museums can play in our lives. Throughout the year, programs such as walking tours and readings are offered.
The Tenement Museum preserves and interprets the history of immigration through the personal experiences of the generations of newcomers who settled in and built lives on Manhattan's Lower East Side, America's iconic immigrant neighborhood; forges emotional connections between visitors and immigrants past and present; and enhances appreciation for the profound role immigration has played and continues to play in shaping America's evolving national identity.