Queens Museum’s Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass is a Must-Visit for Decorative Arts Enthusiasts, NYC History Buffs, and Those Seeking Off-the-Beaten-Track Sights
Inspiration for travel springs from many sources, and my recent trip to the Queens Museum was prompted by Susan Vreeland’s 2012 thoroughly researched and thought-provoking book, Clara and Mr. Tiffany. Set against the backdrop of turn of the century New York City, the book provides excellent insight on the conditions of women and the less financially fortunate in the city at the time. It also offers glorious depictions of the Flatiron Building and innovations like street cars, electric street lights and eventually the subway.
Vreeland illustrates the struggles of women competing in Tiffany Studios for recognition and their livelihoods. She also makes the interesting point that since women were not allowed in the union, they couldn’t strike – thus offering the company stability during labor disputes, but setting the stage for conflict with male workers.
One look at the blatantly feminine forms and it is obvious that the thesis of Vreeland’s book is accurate. Although never publicly acknowledged by Louis C. Tiffany, it is apparent the leaded glass lamps and lampshades were conceived and designed by a woman – Clara Driscoll. Vreeland points out in an interview that lamps were not made before Driscoll’s tenure at Tiffany Studios. I’m convinced.
The Neustadt Collection signage credits Driscoll with designing several pieces, and she is acknowledged for her contribution.
While the collection is smaller than I expected- it is housed in one large room – it offers a wide selection of the lamps created at the turn of the century. I only wish I had visited closer to reading the book as I have forgotten much of the detailed description of the inspiration for the designs and challenges of creating each lamp.
Below are some of the incredible lamps and lampshades currently being displayed from the collection.
The exhibit also features a glass case with implements illustrating the step-by-step leaded-glass shade making process.
The Neustadt Collection continues to find extraordinary glass shards in their collection of glass made at Tiffany Glass Furnaces in Corona, Queens. Some of them have been posted on their Facebook page.
Although I entered the museum with a large school group, its spaciousness allowed for viewing the art unobstructed. Only one or two other visitors were in the Neustadt Collection room while I viewed the exhibit. The school group, and the other visitors I encountered were all in the enormous room with the Panorama.
The Queens Museum is famous for the Panorama, a complete replica of NYC as it was at a point in time. According to the Queens Museum site, the Panorama was “conceived as a celebration of the City’s municipal infrastructure by urban mastermind and World’s Fair President Robert Moses for the 1964 Fair, the Panorama was built by a team of more than 100 people working for the great architectural model makers Raymond Lester & Associates over the course of three years.”
My old friend and Tripadvisor NYC Forum regular, QueensBoulevard was a huge proponent of visiting the Panorama. If you’re reading this QB – I finally made it!
The Queens Museum is situated next to the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the site of the 1964 World’s Fair. It’s an easy trip by mass transit from Manhattan. Take the 7 subway to the Mets – Willets Point stop and follow the signs. Make sure the 7 is running before setting out – it is frequently out of service for weekend construction. Once at Mets – Willets point, follow signs to the park then look for the Unisphere – you are heading in the opposite direction of Citi Field.
Some Beloved Books that Inspire Travel:
The Hair with the Amber Eyes – Edmund de Waal, an Ephrussi descendent, traces his family’s collection of art through 19th and 20th Century Paris and Vienna.
I’m Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago – German celebrity Hape Kerkeling’s humorous take on the pilgrimage route in France and Spain.
Ghost Train to the Eastern Star – Paul Theroux revisits his famous 1975 train trip from London to Tokyo depicted in The Great Railway Bazaar.
Living the Sweet Life in Paris – my college roommate, David Lebovitz’s hilarious take on life in Paris. Laughed until the mascara was running down my face.
And of course, the books that have inspired tours and cult followings like The DaVinci Code, Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil, and Sex & The City.
Tiffany specific literature:
A New Light on Tiffany: Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls by Martin Eidelberg.
Tiffany by Louis Comfort Tiffany and Jacob Baal.
Louis Comfort Tiffany Masterworks by Louis Comfor Tiffany and Camilla de la Bedoyere.
Martin Eidelberg’s The Lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany.
New York City info:
Not for Tourists Guide, 2014
StreetSmart laminated Queens map
Want a NYC fanatic to book your trip? Please contact me via the form here or email eva @ suitcaseready.com