Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Donor to the Collection: Mr. Allan J. Madansky

Often visitors ask us about the furnishings in the recreated exhibit apartments. Where did we get them? Did they belong to the actual family who lived in the apartment? In a nutshell, we conduct extensive research on the family and use what we learn to create a “historic furnishings plan.” This document includes an inventory of everything the family would have had in their home, down to the number of spoons. Once the furnishings plan is complete, museum staff search auctions, estate sales and flea markets for the items. Most of the time we purchase the items, but every once in a while, someone will offer to donate an item that we can use in a recreated apartment. This was the case earlier this year when I got a call from Allan Madansky.

Mr. Madansky’s mother, Chana Bias Meir, immigrated to the Lower East Side from Minsk about a hundred years ago. She was originally from Poland, but lived in Minsk for a while until she came to the United States. On the Lower East Side, she lived at 11 Henry Street and used a wooden butchering board to prepare her kosher meats at home. Meat would be placed on the slats and fluids would drip into the white, enameled tray at the end.

Collection of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum
After his mother passed, the board came into the possession of Mr. Madansky, who hung on to it over the years. After visiting the Tenement Museum, he decided to offer the board to the museum for use in the Rogarshevsky Family apartment. The Rogarshevsky Family lived in 97 Orchard Street during the same time that Mr. Madansky’s mother lived on the Lower East Side. We know that Fannie Rogarshevsky, the matriarch of the Rogarshevsky Family, kept a kosher house, and we even have a metal pail she used for koshering meat that was donated to the museum by her family.

After visiting Mr. Madansky at home and picking up the board, I brought it back to the museum for cataloging. Soon it will be on display in the kitchen of the Rogarshevsky Family Apartment, which is on the third floor of 97 Orchard Street and visible as part of our Piecing it Together Tour.

-Posted by Derya

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