The Italian American Museum will move into its new headquarters on the corner of Grand and Mulberry streets in Little Italy “in a matter of weeks,” Museum president Joseph V. Scelsa announced on Tuesday, providing the neighborhood with a venue to “showcase the Italian-American experience for decades to come.”
Little Italy would certainly benefit from some evidence of its ethnic roots aside from Italian restaurants and the San Gennaro Festival each fall, though we hope the museum doesn’t bring more tourists to the shrinking neighborhood.
The museum has closed on three adjacent, former 19th-century tenement buildings at 185-189 Grand Street (a significant chunk of the Little Italy that exists today) for $9.4 million. Ultimately it plans to double the size of the 10,000-square-foot parcel and add two additional floors to the trio of three-story buildings.
Although there is no word on when the new museum will actually open, Dr. Scelsa will immediately relocate from his midtown office to 189 Grand Street, a well-preserved building once occupied by the defunct Banca Stabile established in 1882 to cater to the influx of Italian immigrants arriving in America in the early 20th century. During construction, an information center will open on the ground floor of Banca Stabile’s old headquarters, which still has the bank’s original teller windows and safes intact.
“We officially have a home now,” Dr. Scelsa said in a statement. “The Italian American will be an addition to the city’s—and the nation’s—cultural experience. It is a place where the Italian-American experience can be showcased and experienced for decades to come.”