Monday, January 30, 2023

The New Italian American Museum Is Taking Shape

By Joseph M. Calisi ©2021 All Rights Reserved

Little Italy, Manhattan, December, 2021 –

The building that once housed the Italian American Museum (IAM) [] at 155 Mulberry Street, was razed a couple of years ago only to enjoy a rebirth with a completely new structure that will serve as a cultural hub and community nexus for Italian Americans and the Little Italy neighborhood. The projected opening is projected for the Columbus Day weekend of 2023.

LindaAnn LoSchiavo, English Language Editor of our magazine, poses with Italian American Museum founder and President Dr. Joseph V. Scelsa after her multimedia presentation “Meet Mae West secret Italian husband” at the old Italian American Museum Building. Photo by Tiziano Thomas Dossena

The IAM was charted in New York State as the first Italian Museum in America in 2001 about a year after the successful exhibition of “The Italians of New York – Five Centuries of Struggle and Achievement” at the New York Historical Society that was sponsored and curated by when Dr. Joseph V. Scelsa, who lead the Italian American Institute At CUNY in 1999. Dr. Scelsa is the Founder and President of The Italian American Museum.

With the increased exhibition and archival space in the new building, the mission of the Italian American Museum remains the same as it was in the old building: to preserve, promote, and celebrate the culture and history of Italian Americans. The museum walls will continue to bridge the past, the present and be a living record of Italian and Italian American contributions to America going forward.

The new Italian American Museum building in Manhattan’s Little Italy. Photo by Joseph M. Calisi ©2021 All Rights Reserved

The story of Italians in America began in what became New York City when Cesare Alberti emigrated from the Italian peninsula in the 1600s when it was named Niew Amsterdam under the Dutch. In a few years, Alberti became a successful tobacco farmer in Brooklyn. Many decades later, the population of Italians greatly increased beginning in the 1880s as native Italians fled their homeland that was in dire need of land and government reforms. The peak of immigration to the United States occurred at the beginning of the 20th century and Italians had to fight discrimination every step of the way by working hard and educating their children. A notable achievement was reached late in the 20th century when Antonin Scalia and Samuel A. Alito, Jr., served as two Italian Americans of the nine justices on the U.S. Supreme Court at the same time!

As Dr. Scelsa said on the Museum’s website, “America. In our Museum, we seek to tell our whole story from Columbus to Cuomo and everything in between, our struggles and our accomplishments through hard work, ingenuity and perseverance. It has not always been easy but we have much to be proud of, for our contributions to American society are enormous. Now we will have a secular cathedral for all to see, experience and appreciate where we came from and what we have achieved.”

Joseph Calisi
Joseph Calisi
International Transportation Photojournalist and Syndicator of News Stories and Images Since 1993 TV credits include Telly Award finalist (11-minute documentary on the last days of mainline steam trains in the world in China) and NY Emmy Award nominee for a news magazine story on the 75th anniversary of NY’s IND subway.

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