In this month’s edition of MEET THE TENEMENT MUSEUM STAFF, we profile an individual who plays a crucial role in the creation and editing of content for the museum’s Walking Tours. Brendan Murphy, a Senior Education Associate at the Tenement Museum, is relatively new to the position but as you will read has been in the Tenement Museum family for a long time.
TM: What is your title?
BM: I am a Senior Education Associate.
TM: What are your job responsibilities?
BM: Like most of us, I wear many hats. I manage the walking tour program, help support Educators through small group facilitation and general management, and assist with teacher workshops.
TM: Where did you work before coming to The Tenement Museum?
BM: I’ve been at the Museum for nearly four and a half years now, but the bulk of that time was spent as an Educator. While part-time here, I worked at the Brooklyn Public Library in the educational wing of their archive, the Brooklyn Collection. I helped students hone their research skills while exploring their borough’s history. Before my current career in education, I lived my best Millennial life: bartender, caterer, temporary administrative assistant, house manager, yoga studio administration, room service clerk, stroller valet, census worker, etc.
TM: Most interesting story related to your job since starting here?
BM: The most interesting story since starting as Senior Education Associate (thus far) happened just after I was hired. I reached out to a local community member, K Webster with the Sarah Delano Roosevelt Park Coalition, on Adam Steinberg’s suggestion. We sat down and chatted and discussed our roles within our respective institutions. She then brought over the head gardener of M’Finda Kalunga, one of the gardens that the Coalition oversees. He has been in the neighborhood for years and was there when the garden was first founded in what was then a trash heap. While I listened to him share both his memories and his predictions, it struck me just how lucky I am to work in a neighborhood that inspires such passion, both from those who currently live here and those who have longstanding family ties.
TM: What is your family’s immigrant history?
BM: My immigration story is very pale. My father’s family is Irish and Scottish and, for the most part, has been here since the late 1700s. My mother’s side is Scandinavian and the majority of them immigrated in the middle of the 19th century.
TM: Where did you grow up?
BM: I was born in Athens, Georgia and all of my father’s family still lives in the Deep South. We moved to Oregon when I was four and from there to Washington State. It was in Washington that I spent my formative years. I migrated to New York about eight years ago. I am caught between two coasts – I love New York for its cultural vibrancy, but there are few places on the planet more beautiful than the Pacific Northwest.
TM: What do you like doing in your free time?
BM: I like to hike* and spend time outside, jog, read, watch good TV, watch bad TV, and spend time with my amazing community of friends. *We don’t actually have locations where one can hike in New York, rather places to walk outside. Yes, yes, I know that there are what New Yorkers call “mountains” around, but… come on. Who are we kidding?
TM: You are in charge of the Walking Tours at the museum, do you have a dream Walking Tour idea for the museum?
BM: I’m not pandering, I promise. I’m so proud of our current offerings and the Educators who lead them. We take visitors to places they’d never think to stop at and ask them to explore the entirety of the neighborhood, not just the parts that make it into guide books. Although, if I had to make a change, I’d add more beer to our programs in general, walking tours and otherwise.
TM: Favorite Tenement Museum tour and why?
BM: I love leading Tastings as the Tenement. Inviting visitors to share their stories at a family table and explore the subtle ways that immigration has changed our country for the better is such a gratifying experience. Even folks who are picky eaters benefit from immigration! My cousin’s husband is perhaps the pickiest eater I’ve ever met, but he never says no to a hot dog. Thanks John and Caroline!
TM: Favorite place to go in the Lower East Side?
BM: The waterfront is really beautiful. But, let’s be real, my favorite place in the neighborhood is Melt, the ice cream sandwich place on Orchard. They are absolutely delicious and I refuse your judgement.
- Post by Jonathan Pace, Communications Manager at the Tenement Museum