Thursday, July 14, 2011

The New Center at 103 Orchard Makes Room for Our Youngest Visitors

What’s the best way to make a child really, really antsy? We know: Put them outside a store with toys and a bowl of free candy but bar them entry. Watch as the children press up against the store’s windows, licking their lips and hopping up and down on one foot.

This, alas, has been the state of affairs at the Tenement Museum for years. Our Visitors’ Center is too small and crowded for much more than staff and visitors on our public tours. All those school groups we cater to throughout the year have to wait outside, no matter what the weather.

This is why we’re so excited about the opening of our new Visitors and Education Center at 103 Orchard Street! Now schoolchildren get treated with the respect they deserve. They have their own private entrance leading up to the second floor, where they’ll sit in climate-controlled comfort before heading to their tours.

Schoolkids visit the Baldizzi apartment

And down in the basement level: bathrooms. Lots of bathrooms. Enough to satisfy a stadium full of drunk football fans. (Well, maybe not, but still – it’s a lot more than we use to have!) These facilities aren’t the most glamorous aspect of our new home, but they’re awfully important when you’re a third grade teacher presiding over twenty kids who polished off their juice boxes on the bus.

But wait, there’s more! The second floor isn’t a waiting room for kids – it’s a home for our three modern “smart” classrooms. Here the kids can study maps and primary resources projected onto a screen. The classrooms even have Internet access, allowing us to quickly update our activities with the newest research and draw parallels to current events.

We never forget our educational mission, or the needs of the thousands of children who visit us every year. And now, thanks to 103 Orchard Street, we can engage their minds and take care of their basic needs. We’re thrilled – and we know the schoolchildren will be thrilled, too.

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