Tiffany Glass at the Queens Museum

Since I was a small child I’ve always loved stained glass, and my favorite is Tiffany glass. So I was excited when I went to the Queens Museum for the first time and discovered the Neustadt Collection Gallery. Egon and Hildegard Neustadt were Tiffany glass collectors, and the current exhibition, Shade Garden: Floral Lamps from the Tiffany Studios, features a portion of their collection.

This first lamp stood out to me because of its unusual shape: a globe. I love the shading in the glass, which creates the illusion of texture in the water lilies’ petals.

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I also loved this lamp, which features long strands of wisteria flowers. The use of the metal elements to create the vines creates a strong framework for the delicate petals, portrayed in various shades of lavender to bluish-purple glass.

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This close-up detail of the flowers in another lamp demonstrates why Tiffany glass is so special. Some petals have glass with relatively pure colors, but most petals and leaves use variations in color to develop shadows and details to the overall design.

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What I’ve shown here is just a small sample of what you will see when you visit – the exhibition contains 20 lamps in all. The gallery also explores the process of how these leaded glass lampshades were made, including vintage tools used by Tiffany artisans. You should definitely visit the Queens Museum to see the full process, but here’s one photograph of an early step.

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The lamps are not the only thing that makes the Neustadt Collection gallery special; the gallery also does an excellent job of creating a historical context for the Tiffany Studios, which were located in Corona, Queens, as well as some of the women designers and artisans whose artistic contributions helped to create Tiffany’s reputation. As a historian, I am fascinated by the fact that more is being uncovered about these women, known as “Tiffany Girls,” as additional research continues–I hope to learn more about their stories in the future.

One final piece that caught my attention was a beautiful, detailed glass mosaic with a religious theme. Here is a close-up view of the mosaic. As I look at this photograph again, I am struck by the tremendous range of colors in this piece – the variations create shadow and texture.

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If you haven’t been to the Queens Museum before, it is located in the middle of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the site of the 1964 World’s Fair. If taking public transportation, take the 7 train to the Mets-Willets Point stop. It’s an opportunity to see some of the public art in the park, including the iconic unisphere. If you are driving, the museum also has limited parking available; complete directions are available here on the museum’s website.

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