Tour// Tenement Museum to Bowery St.

Berkli Parc Cafe – Tenement Museum – New Museum – Sperone Westwater Gallery – Makerbot Store

 

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8:30 AM Berkli Parc Cafe

 

In order to beat the rush of group tours that begins around 10am everyday at the Tenement Museum, the group met at the Berkli Parc Cafe at 8:30am. This cafe, named after the University of California, Berkeley, was right down the street from the museum and was a good spot to discuss the background of tenements and the area in general before heading over for the tour at 9am.

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9:00 AM Tenement Museum

At 9am we were met by the museum’s Director of Curatorial Affairs and Hebrew Technical Institute Research Fellow David Favaloro at the corner on 103 Orchard St. This corner we met at is significant in that it is the space that has undergone the most change in the history of the museum. Although it is now a gift shop for the museum, 103 Orchard St. used to be a part of 3 adjacent tenements in the dumbbell style until owner, Joseph Marcus, altered the building to house a space for rental on the ground floor. Since then the ground floor of 103 Orchard St. has been a retail spot and has housed several different kinds of businesses.

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With David Favaloro guiding us, the tour of the tenements began. We entered 97 Orchard St. and moved our way up each level to view various tenement rooms. David explained to us that they had made the decision to have certain rooms remain as they were found and have others reconstruct a certain moment in history. Surprisingly, we found out that the rooms without the props, the original rooms, were more expensive to maintain. Due to the continuing decay of the conditions of the building an exposed room needed much more attention.

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Throughout the tour David explained that the reconstruction of each room came after extensive research on the actual tenants that lived there at a certain point and the props were acquired through a special consultant. Apparently, finding the props has become significantly easier since the Internet and, more specifically, ebay.

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The tour concluded in the ground floor which was reconstructed as a bar. While the museum had considered at one point to convert that space into an actual bar their research had told them it would simply not be worth the investment to establish and operate a bar or restaurant.

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Our time with David Favaloro concluded with a Q&A session in the visitor’s center that provided a more in depth insight into what the institution had undergone and was also planning for the future. For example, a big issue the museum is dealing with right now is the issue of expansion. With such a unique operation at hand, expansion has been a real challenge for the institution and while they have specific plans on how to expand it will all take time over the course of the next several years.

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12:00 PM Bowery St._New Museum and Sperone Westwater Gallery

The next stop on the agenda was Bowery St. With the Makerbot Store being our ending point of the tour we were able to look briefly at two projects along the way on Bowery St. The first project is the New Museum by SANAA. Using cheaper industrial material the building pulls of an interesting look with its corrugated metal mesh. Inside, the museum houses various contemporary art pieces mostly by younger lesser known talents.

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Photo Credit: Archdaily

The final stop before the Makerbot Store was the Sperone Westwater Gallery by Norman Foster + Partners which also houses contemporary art although mostly by renown, more established artists. The building is known for its distinct red freight elevator that acts as an extension to the galleries on each floor. Known also as the Big Red Box, the bright red elevator can be seen from the outside as well through the translucent glass.

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Photo Credit: Archdaily

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Photo Credit: Ensam Lee

 

1:00 PM Makerbot Store

The tour concluded at the Makerbot Store where we were able to look at various products for the 3D printers and shop for spools for the studio. It was a great way to conclude a day that started out with so much historical relevance with the reality of the technology that we work with everyday now.

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