Yesterday morning, the New-York Historical Society previewed the totally transformed fourth floor of its Upper West Side museum—once a drab archive, it will soon host 100 Tiffany Lamps in a space designed by London- and Prague-based architect Eva Jiřičná.

The creation of the Gallery of Tiffany Lamps was spurred by the discovery that Clara Driscoll, one of the “Tiffany Girls” (women who worked for Tiffany Studios and selected the glass fragments that went into the lamps), was a leading creative force and designed many Tiffany lamps herselfNew York City–based PBDW were the architects of record for the 4,800-square-foot, two-story gallery, which features specially-crafted curving glass displays surrounded by a low-light environment and dark blue walls.

The each step and its corresponding vertical member is actually a single piece of glass. The glass was custom fabricated in Norwich, England. (Courtesy Corrado Serra)

Jiřičná’s firm, who has come to specialize in glass construction, designed the LED-lit stairs with absolutely minimal metal details. In most instances, the stair’s glass-to-glass metal connections are encased within the layers of laminated glass panes, making them totally flush and well-hidden. Furthermore, the stair’s glass hangs off the nearby wall and works in tension. A small amount of give was engineered into the steps for users’ comfort when walking upward. Georgina Papathanasiou, an associate at Eva Jiřičná Architects, said the staircase was “a feat of technology in the 21st-century” to match the technical achievement of Tiffany’s 20th-century creations. In addition to telling the history of the Tiffany Girls and Clara Driscoll, visitors can create their own Tiffany lamp through an interactive digital installation (created by Cambridge, Massachusetts–based Small Design firm Inc.) on the second floor.

The Gallery of Tiffany Lamps is adjacent to the also-new 1,500-square-foot Joyce B. Cowin’s History Gallery, a space dedicated to exhibitions organized by the New-York Historical Society’s Center for Women’s History. The newly-established Center is the first institution of its kind dedicated to public exhibits on women in American history. (The Joyce B. Cowin’s History Gallery will be inaugurated with Saving Washington, an exhibition on First Lady Dolley Madison, along with items from the archives of Billie Jean King, an interactive multimedia wall, among other artifacts.) Lastly, a new North Gallery will showcase objects from the museum’s permanent collection.

All the galleries will open to the public on April 29.

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