New Italian American Museum Open in Little Italy
On Wednesday, the Italian-American museum will open at its new location in Little Italy.
The museum honors Italians and Italian-Americans who have made contributions to American culture.
Located on the corner of Mulberry and Grand Streets, the museum, which was formerly located in a Midtown office building, will be housed in a building that used to be a bank used by Italian immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
“We wanted to find a place that was historically significant,” said Italian American Museum President Joseph Scelsa. “Ellis Island was already taken, so we knew we’d have to find someplace else. And what could be more perfect than Little Italy, which is where the immigrants first came. The first large Italian community came here.”
The story of the Italian Americas can now be told through old bank deposit slips, money transfer statements, steamship tickets, and photos.
“Once we started looking at the names and the handwriting on the papers, pictures, I mean everything was just piled into the vault and the basement, and it’s just incredible how much beautiful stuff is here,” said “The Immigrant Experience” curator Nancy Catali.
One supporter of the museum is actor Tony Lo Bianco, who is donating a percentage of ticket sales from his new show about legendary mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.
“To see the history, of what we went through, is incredible,” he said.
While Little Italy has transformed into more of a tourist attraction than Italian neighborhood over the years, organizers say the museum will be a reminder of what once was.
“People who come into this area, they have food, but they don’t have the history,” said Catali. “Right on this corner is where a lot of history happened.”
The museum is hoping to expand to some neighboring buildings and increase the number of exhibits.
“We want to show how Italians had an impact on America and how much they have given,” said Scelsa.
The museum will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays.