Renovation of The Italian-American Museum in Little Italy Set to Complete in Spring, 2023 + Illuminated Outdoor Exhibit, “Volare”




Rendering of 185 Grand Street courtesy Oved Group

The Italian American Museum in Little Italy kicked-off 2018 with a presentation of architectural renderings and a model for its anticipated expansion, given by Dr. Joseph V. Scelsa, Founder and President. Now, more than three-years later, here’s an update. The Museum is set to reopen in the Spring of 2023.

The Museum announced that the new structure topped off in November, 2020, and brick facade has been applied. All images below. The building, a seven-story mixed-use building, is located at 185 Grand Street (The Grand Mulberry) and includes 20 residential units above the Italian American Museum.

Illuminated outdoor exhibit entitled “Volare” produced by Artistic Director, Tiziano Corbelli and Craftsman, Antonio Spiezia.

In the meantime, Italian artisans have created an illuminated outdoor exhibit entitled, “Volare” which is based on one of the most well-known Italian songs of all time, “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu”. The exhibit, which was produced by Artistic Director, Tiziano Corbelli and Craftsman, Antonio Spiezia is currently on display in Little Italy, New York City.

The work reproduces in a luminescent key the best-known song of Italianness in the world: “Nel Blu dipinto di blu” and sailed over that Atlantic as our compatriots did, days, weeks, months of waiting.

This initiative was promoted by Italian sponsors who were happy to support the exhibit’s production and shipping costs.

Volare is not just a song, it is much more, an absolutely original installation that wants to thank New York and the U.S. for welcoming our people.

Check out the Museum progress, below.

New Italian American Museum facade is complete!


Above image of the new Italian American Museum facade ~ it’s complete (October 2022)!


Renderings courtesy

Construction on this project began in 2018, and slated for completion in 2021. The new space will encompass four levels that will include permanent and temporary exhibition space, an auditorium for film screenings, lectures, presentations, meetings, and theatrical, music and dance performances. The new space will quadruple its current size, and be located at the current location with an entrance on Mulberry Street. The Museum’s mission will celebrate modern-day Italian culture, with exhibitions and programs that feature artists, authors and thinkers from Italy.

via Italian American Museum, January 2019

For a decade, the museum did its best to capture the Italian-American experience in 1,800 square feet of space, roughly the size of a nice-sized Manhattan apartment. Two years ago, a developer bought the two-story property from Dr. Joseph V. Scelsa and his board members. The new owners agreed to provide a new home for the museum rent-free in the mid-rise apartment building that will replace it.

“They broke ground last November,” said Scelsa. “The foundation will be finished by the end of summer. “Another year for the edifice and we should be open by spring 2021,” he said. “That’s my hope.

via Italian American Museum, January 2019

The new museum will cover 6,500 square feet on four floors.

Much of the permanent collection that will be in the new IAM will have come from the attics of New Yorkers — mandolins, barbers’ tools, extortion letters from the Black Hand (a kind of forerunner of the Mafia) and former New York City cop Frank Serpico’s gun. The museum will be divided into four sections, beginning with the first Italian immigrants to the New World in 1635.

via Italian American Museum, January 2019

The second section is about daily life in Little Italy, once the largest colony of Italians outside the boot.

A third section is on “Becoming Americans,” which Scelsa is intimately tied to World War II and thousands of Italian Americans proving their loyalty by going to war against their ancestral homeland.

via Italian American Museum, January 2019

It also covers the migration of Italians out of the Little Italys of American cities into the suburbs, where they became nearly indistinguishable from other Americans.

“They didn’t feel they had to be in a enclave to protect themselves any longer,” said Scelsa.

“How We See Ourselves” is the final section, the one that tackles the barbed stigma of “The Godfather” and gangster films like it. Scelsa, 73, retired from Queens College in 2008, expressly to get the museum started.

Anticipated grand opening in time for The Feast of San Gennaro 2021.

Italian American Museum, via Google Maps, via op.AL from

Below, images of the brick facade applied to the building in November, 2020.

Images courtesy Italian American Museum

As the Museum prepares for completion of its renovation, the historic Banca Stabile safe was returned to the building on June 4, 2021 (below).

The return to the building of the historic Banca Stabile Safe. Image via Italian American Museum

The safe, which dates back to when this site was the headquarters of Banca Stabile, was removed from the site in 2018, prior to the demolition.

The return to the building of the historic Banca Stabile Safe. Image via Italian American Museum

Banca Stabile provided financial transactions, insurance, travel, money transfer services and so much more to the immigrant Italian community ~ it was considered the center of their community.

The return to the building of the historic Banca Stabile Safe. Image via Italian American Museum

The bank closed in 1932, but the family kept the building with all its treasurers, such as the vault, tin ceiling, marble flooring and counters, bronze grilles ~ and historic items like steam ship tickets, safe deposit boxes, passports and deeds.

The return to the building of the historic Banca Stabile Safe. Image via Italian American Museum

Below, February 3, 2022 – Steel frame for the Museum entrance being installed.

Entrance being installed. February 3, 2022

Taking a look inside, below – an update of the stairs to the mezzanine being installed.

Update on the interior, with stairs to the mezzanine being installed. February 8, 2022


And the YouTube video below, with the unveiling of the signage! October, 2022

If you missed the Design Exhibit, check out the renderings of the new museum at here.

The Italian American Museum is located at 155 Mulberry Street, NYC

Exhibit Sponsors for “Volare” include Edizioni Curci, Seven Ars, Ceit Europea, Consorzio Group Service, Marleon Bed and Breakfast, Ramberti Outdoor Furniture Made in Italy, Daniele Pasquini Top Wealth Advisory Italy, Birgo Burger Italy, Santarcangelo Mare