Monday, October 26, 2009

More Famous Mucisians in 97 Orchard Street

Some folks took an interest in #17 on our list of "20 Things You Don't Know About the Tenement Museum." Yup, Metallica did have a photo shoot here. 

That would be Lars Ulrich in the second floor ruin.

On the second floor landing, by the stairs.
There's no record of which magazine published these photos (my file has disappeared), but it was probably in May or June 2004, which means the shoot likely took place several months earlier. Perhaps a reader recognizes the photos and can tell us which photographer it was, or an old Tenement staffer will come forward with some memories of this particular adventure?
Other stars have spent time here, too.

This is Ryan Adams in Q magazine, September 2003 (photographs by Chris Buck). I have no idea what he's doing, but he's standing in front of one of eight painted medallions that line the first floor hallway of 97 Orchard Street. They were likely added around 1905, when the entry way was refurbished with the addition of tile flooring, pressed metal ceilings, and painted burlap wall covering. The refurbishment also corresponded to the year when indoor toilets and an air shaft were installed in the tenement (they were mandated by law in 1901 with the Tenement House Act). 

Visitors - and indeed early researchers working on this building - were surprised to find such intricate painting in working-class housing. Around the time these were painted, our block of Orchard Street was probably the most densely populated place in the world. And yet, poignantly, our artist painted bucolic rural scenes on each of these circles. The one behind Ryan Adams' head has been left under a layer of grime, coal dust, and New York City dirt, but we've restored another in the hallway and you can see a small cottage in a field, looking rather like a little farm from the old country.

For the record, this is the Confino family apartment, in which visitors are allowed to sit on chairs and touch objects. Even stars are not allowed to touch collection objects in regular apartments. Don't do this on a regular tour! You shouldn't operate a Victrola yourself without proper training, either - they can be easily broken. It was probably easier to find a Victrola repair man in 1916 than it is today (just ask Derya, our collections manager, who is in charge of fixing ours when it breaks down. Thank goodness that Waves LLC is right here in Manhattan).

Why are photgraphers so interested in 97 Orchard Street? I guess they like the historical fabric as much as we do. So many interesting colors and textures to play off... there are a hundred million stories you can imagine taking place in this building. The stories we tell on our tours are just a handful of possibilities...

- Posted by Kate

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