Last Wednesday was my second time visiting the Tenement Museum, and, again, I really enjoyed the visit, which was something I didn’t expect. Let me explain: I’ve always hated (yes, I’m very passionate) museums that display objects trying to depict the way people lived at a given time. I always thought “yeah, that’s how they slept. Hum, so what?”. There was never anything else but the objects displayed, and, to me, that was not nearly enough to tell me something, a story about those people. So the first time I went to the Tenement Museum I thought it was going to be the exact same thing, and I was really positively surprised by it. It’s amazing how their strategy adds a whole new level to the visitor experience: having a guide that uses the story of a family that actually lived in that apartment to show you data about immigrant’s life at that period is simple and yet so effective. You feel privileged for being able to enter a family’s life, and you get to learn a lot through it.
It is undeniable, however, that much of the experience’s success depends on the guide you get. I’ve been lucky both times I was there – or maybe lucky is not the right word; maybe there is only one or two not so good ones and those people who get them are unlucky. Our guide for this time made it a conversation rather than a lecture, so that the exchange between us was very organic – I really enjoyed it.
Overall, such a great experience!