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NYC Tenement Museum’s Black Migration Exhibit Premieres In February

Visitors can explore the Black migrant experience in post-Civil War era New York City through a 75-minute guided, multimedia tour.

Calling all museum-goers!

On Feb. 1, the Tenement Museum in Lower Manhattan, NY, will open its first exhibit in several years, amplifying the stories of Black New Yorkers in Lower Manhattan’s tenements in the 1860s and 1870s.

Last fall, the museum reopened its National Historic Landmark tenement at 97 Orchard Street on the Lower East Side of New York, but in February visitors can explore the Black migrant experience in post-Civil War era New York City through a new 75-minute guided, multimedia tour, “A Union of Hope: 1869,” according to a press release.

“For the first time in its 35-year history, the Museum is sharing the story of a Black family, who lived in a nearby tenement. Departing from its traditional focus on the stories of families that lived in its historic buildings, the Museum is fulfilling its goal to explore the full breadth of immigrant and migrant experiences,” the release stated. 

The interactive exhibit, which took years in the making, tells the story of Joseph and Rachel Moore story and “200 never-before-seen” historical artifacts. From Joseph’s free Black community of Belvidere, New Jersey, visitors will journey in Joseph’s family’s footsteps to New York City. Then, the tour will bring visitors to a recreated version of Joseph and Rachel’s rear tenement at 17 Laurens Street. The couple lived less than a mile west of 97 Orchard Street in a neighborhood called the 8th Ward, today’s SoHo.

“The story of Joseph and Rachel Moore, who made their way to the city during one of the most tumultuous decades in U.S. history, shines a light on how the first generation of free Black Americans confronted the limits and expanded the promise of this nation’s evolving ideals during the revolutionary Civil War Era,” said Leslie Harris, a consulting scholar on the development of the new exhibit and a professor of History and Black Studies at Northwestern University.

Throughout Black History Month, the museum will offer virtual programs designed to help visitors more deeply explore the Joseph and Rachel Moore’s story during the Civil War era.

Tickets to “A Union of Hope” tours are available here. 

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