Thursday, May 31, 2012

Shop Life: A Glimpse of Our Progress

As construction progresses on our "Shop Life" exhibit, the ground floor rooms at 97 Orchard Street are evolving day by day. This phase of construction isn't quite as dramatic as others have been, but they're still critical.

Believe it or not, there's a lot going on in this photograph of the new exhibit space:

This room will soon represent Caroline Schneider's kitchen
To begin with: we've got a beautiful new chair rail around the walls, carefully crafted by Kevin Groves. Kevin has worked on Tenement Museum exhibits for many years. He pays close attention to detail, ensuring that everything he builds is beautiful and historically accurate.

The small rectangular cut-outs in the wall reveal snippets of the building's history; lines where partition walls once stood, and places where previous walls were attached to the brick structure. We use these "exposure windows" to give visitors glimpses of the building's past.

Why do we cover the brick at all? Though it's charming to the contemporary eye, exposed brick is very much a mid-to-late 20th century phenomenon. Originally, these spaces would have had painted plaster walls (just as the residential apartments upstairs did), so we're re-creating that aesthetic for "Shop Life".

The site of another big upcoming innovation also looks pretty humble these days:

The site of our future wheel chair lift

This is a photo of our rear yard, where we're preparing to install a new wheelchair lift. This exciting new addition will allow wheelchair users to access to "Shop Life"--the first wheelchair-accessible exhibit at 97 Orchard Street!

We'll keep you posted with further updates as work progresses on our new exhibit.

-- Posted by Kira Garcia

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