Opening Date: February 18, 2019
Closing Date: March 22, 2019


The Tenement Museum (TM), in partnership with the National Park Service, seeks proposals from qualified historical research and museum interpretation consultants to design and develop a walking tour of African American history in Lower Manhattan.

Project Overview

Each year, 14,000+ people explore the Lower East Side on walking tours led by TM educators. These tours share site-specific histories of individuals, families, and communities navigating a dynamic urban environment, inviting guests to examine how personal and cultural identity shape communities and to re-examine ideas of historical significance and neighborhood change.  

Building on this successful practice, the TM, in partnership with the National Park Service, will engage a qualified consultant to work together with a project team on the development of a walking tour focused on the African-American history of Lower Manhattan. The scope of this tour will encompass the historical presence of African Americans throughout the city’s development from its origins through the present day, with the African Burial Ground National Monument as an anchor point. The tour will be developed and piloted in 2019, and be offered as a regularly scheduled program in 2020 and beyond.


Founded in 1988, the Tenement Museum’s mission is to tell the uniquely American stories of immigrants, migrants, and refugees in the ongoing creation of our nation. The TM explores these stories, past and present, in two historic tenement buildings on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, on walking tours of surrounding neighborhoods, and through its national, international and digital initiatives.

The TM’s 5-year Strategic Plan, launched in Spring 2018, calls on the Museum to “tell the stories of a broader range of people who shape the American Identity.” In 2018, the Museum introduced Under One Roof, its first tour to focus on post-World War II stories, and also the first centered on families of color. An independent evaluation of the tour indicated a strong interest in continued expansion of TM storytelling beyond its early focus on European immigrants. Additional data from visitor focus groups and post-tour surveys indicates a high level of interest in African American history and its role in the development of New York City. Responses to previous programs (including a self-guided walking tour brochure, specific stops on the current walking tour “Building on the Lower East Side,” and discussion within the “Irish Outsiders” tour on the role of race in discrimination and access to opportunity) indicate demand for additional content focused on the city’s African American stories.

Project Funding and Budget

The honorarium for this project is $12,000, all inclusive, payable in installments tied to project milestones. The TM is funding this project through an agreement with the National Park Service. The TM will be the issuer of payment and will require documentation of project contractor status in compliance with tax law.

Development Process

The selected consultant will work with a project team to research, design and develop a two-hour walking tour of African American history in Lower Manhattan. The tour planning process will address:


Interpretive Goals

Primary themes, key messages and visitor outcomes

Interpretive challenges and opportunities

Unique individual, site-specific stories and ideas to be conveyed on the tour

Tour Frequency, Timing and Staging


Visitor experience


The consultant’s process will begin with orientations to Tenement Museum pedagogy and tour practice, familiarization with existing walking tours, and introduction to Museum archives and resources. The consulting partner will work with TM staff and independently to develop themes informed by recent scholarship in African American and urban history; visitor evaluation; internal and external stakeholders; and Tenement Museum principles of teaching and learning. With the project team, the consultant will plan, conduct, and review results from focus groups with visitors, TM educators, and external scholar-advisors. The consultant will conduct original and secondary research to gather, organize, and present research in the form of a tour narrative, including primary documents, images, maps, oral histories and other supplementary components. Finally, the consultant will prototype tours with trial audiences and assist in evaluating, refining, and preparing training recommendations for implementation by TM staff.


Project Team:

The African American History Walking Tour will be developed by a project team, meeting regularly over the course of the project. Team members include:

  • Project Director [PD]: Michelle Moon, Chief Program Officer. The PD will set guidelines and criteria and coordinate final work approvals. All project reporting will go through the PD to appropriate staff and board members.
  • Project Manager [PM]: Brendan Murphy, Education Manager for Staff Development and Walking Tours. The PM will be responsible for coordinating on‐site efforts with EDM staff, the consultant, and project advisors. The consultant will communicate directly with the PM. The PM will finalize the detailed project schedule with the consultant, provide orientations to TM walking tour practice and museum content, review and advise on tour pathways, content and delivery, report progress to the project team and other internal groups, relay information from the museum to the consultant, and coordinate reviews and approvals.
  • Curatorial and Research Advisor: David Favaloro, TM Curator, will provide museum research and content
  • Collections Advisor: Danielle Swanson, TM Collections Manager, will support access to museum archives, photography, and collection items as needed
  • TM Lead Educator [to be named] will provide perspective and expertise based on TM experience, tour practice and training requirements
  • TM Educator(s) [to be named] will provide perspective and expertise based on TM experience and tour practice


Specific deliverables to be outlined in the contract will include:

  • Thematic statement defining the focus and purpose of the tour
  • Comprehensive list of tour sites visited with specific geographic locations, linked by maps outlining an efficient, safe, and meaningful pathway
  • Narrative document for use as the primary tour training vehicle and research summary
  • Supplemental materials, such as timelines, journal articles, etc.
  • Reference images
  • Delivery of prototype tours for one or more audiences
  • Recommendations for staff training
  • Project bibliography


Project Timeline

March-April 2019:

  • Select consultant
  • Secure the participation of scholars, educators, and advisory group members

March-June 2019:

  • Conduct initial research
  • Meet with advisory group(s)
  • Develop draft themes
  • Select potential sites
  • Refine site selection and propose tour pathway
  • Develop draft narrative document and site content
  • Test tour pathway with project team and incorporate feedback

June-September 2019:

  • Refine draft tour and training materials
  • Conduct additional research as needed
  • Meet with advisory group(s), TM and NPS staff for formative feedback
  • Conduct training for pilot group of TM educators/staff
  • Observe pilot tours and refine content
  • Integrate evaluation feedback into tour revisions
  • Present research content to TM Educators

September-December 2019:

  • Integrate all visitor, educator, and advisory feedback into tour content
  • Complete final revisions
  • Design and produce final deliverables
  • Conduct final project presentation

Proposal Submission

Prospective consultants must submit a proposal with all information requested in this section of the RFP. The proposal should not exceed 5 pages in length.  Submit complete via email to by March 22, 2019.


  1. Consultant Information
  • Legal or firm name of consultant
  • Full address
  • Telephone number
  • Email address for main contact


  1. Understanding of Topic

Please describe your qualifications for framing, researching, and organizing content on African American history in Lower Manhattan, and how those stories can be situated within themes of migration and community change.


  1. Interpretive Themes

Please provide a statement outlining 1-3 potential thematic directions for the tour, describing how physical, site-based location experiences link to and build the thematic content and reinforce key messages.


  1. Content Delivery

Please describe your experience with and/or approach to developing content for tours, showing how your approach would support Tenement Museum goals for storytelling, making personal and emotional connections, linking past and present, and exploring history critically, through multiple perspectives. How will the tour experience be moving and meaningful? How will it promote critical thinking and curiosity? How will it incorporate stories of individuals and families? Provide examples of past work, if applicable.


  1. Visitor Experience

Please describe any experience with and/or approach to visitor experience on walking tours, including considerations for visitor comfort, overall length, group management, etc.


  1. Work Samples

Provide up to three (3) project examples with references. Include a brief description of the project responsibilities, timeframe to complete the project, completion/opening date, total dollar value of the project, and its relevance to the TM project. For the references, provide the client’s name and contact information to confirm performance and the services provided.


  1. Work Plan and Schedule

Provide a schedule for delivery of the tasks as outlined in the scope of work in this RFP.


Proposal Evaluation and Awards

The submitted proposals will be reviewed as they are submitted. Each proposal will be evaluated by the TM project team based on the factors below.

  • Experience in researching African American History, Manhattan history, and/or related fields
  • Familiarity with Lower Manhattan and the Tenement Museum
  • Project understanding, strength of thematic approaches, and creativity of ideas
  • Ability to facilitate collaborative internal and external engagement in the development process
  • Experience developing tour programs, especially walking tours
  • Willingness and ability to meet project deadlines

Notification of the selected consultant will be made by March 29, 2019. Upon approval of the selected consultant and agreement by both parties, a formal contract and work agreement will be established.

General Conditions

All costs and expenses incurred in preparation of the proposal shall be borne by the proponent. The TM is not liable to pay such costs and expenses or to reimburse or to compensate the proponents under any circumstance. The EDM shall not be responsible for any costs related to any delays in the RFP, in awarding the contract, or costs associated with any review or the approval process, or with obtaining any government approvals. The TM and the proponent reserve the right to enter into a voluntary supplementary agreement to perform any additional work not assigned within the scope of this project.