Several student members of the William Floyd High School Foreign Language Honor Society (FLHS) had the opportunity to expand their understanding of Italian culture during a recent field trip to the Italian American Museum located in New York City’s Little Italy. The historic museum, located on the corner of Mulberry and Grand Street in Lower Manhattan, hosted FLHS students and introduced them to several exhibits that articulated the important contributions made by the people of Italy and their descendants, who continue to flourish in America today.
According to Derek Robinson, foreign language teacher and FLHS advisor, “The neighborhood of Little Italy has changed significantly since its heyday in the late 19th century. Originally an area that attracted immigrants from Sicily and Naples, Little Italy stretched from Canal to Houston Streets; between Lafayette Street and Bowery. Although the size of this historic neighborhood has decreased, its historic impact remains strong.”
The Italian American Museum was “born on June 12, 2001 when it was officially chartered under the aegis of the University of the State of New York, Education Department as a museum. The purposes of which, are to establish and maintain a museum dedicated to Italian Americans,” according to the Museum’s official mission statement. Additionally, this historic location was once the site of “Banca Stabile” or “Stable Bank” which served as a link for immigrants in the United States with their relatives in Italy. The “Banca Stabile” became the hub of daily transactions in the late 1800s including offering telegraph services, travel via steam ships, import and export transactions and even served as the post office.
FLHS students had the opportunity to visit the museum’s featured exhibit, the “Artiste Italiane – Women Artists of Italian Heritage.” This exhibit displayed a selection of works by 13 female artists of Italian heritage whose work has been featured globally. After visiting the museum, students had an opportunity to visit local Italian shops and completed their field trip by eating at one of the most popular Italian restaurants in Little Italy; topped off with a fresh Italian cannoli as a dessert.