The New-York Historical Society has transformed an old archive on its fourth floor into a 4,800-square-foot, two-story gallery dedicated to one hundred Tiffany lamps. The creation of the gallery 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 herself. London-based Eva Jiricna Architects designed the gallery’s curving glass, as well as an all-glass stair that connects the space’s two levels. Each of the stair’s vertical supports and corresponding risers are, in fact, single pieces of glass hung in tension. The pieces were custom fabricated in Norwich, England, and feature metal connectors subtly hidden in layers of laminated glass. Georgina Papathanasiou, an associate at Eva Jiricna Architects, said the staircase was “a feat of technology in the 21st century” to match the technical achievement of Tiffany and Driscoll’s 20th-century creations. New York City–based PBDW were the architects of record. The Gallery of Tiffany Lamps New-York Historical Society 170 Central Park West, New York Tel: 212-873-3400 Architect: Eva Jiricna Architects
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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 herself. New 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. 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.
Louis Comfort Tiffany is synonymous with the lamps that bear his name. However, a recent discovery about the lamps' origins helped shape a new exhibition space currently under construction at the New-York Historical Society. It was well-known that Tiffany employed dozens of women—known as "Tiffany Girls"—to carefully select the glass fragments that went into Tiffany lamps, one of the many types of objets de luxe his company produced. (Tiffany thought women had a better eye for color.) However, letters discovered in 2005 and written by one such Tiffany Girl, Clara Driscoll, revealed that she was a leading creative force in the lamp studio and designed several lamps herself. Now, the New-York Historical Society's 100 Tiffany lamps will be celebrated in a new gallery that will stand 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. Both spaces will be located on the museum's fourth floor, which was previously an archive. London and Prague-based architect Eva Jiřičná, who designed the Jewellery gallery at the V&A, is behind the Gallery of Tiffany Lamps, with New York City-based PBDW as architects of record. Specially-crafted curving glass displays, surrounded by a low-light environment and dark blue walls, will let the lamps shine unencumbered. The 4,800-square-foot, two-story Gallery of Tiffany Lamps will also feature an all-glass curving staircase lit by LEDs. Its glowing structural glass steps, risers, and vertical fins will fit together with minimal metal connection details. In addition to telling the history of Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls, visitors will be able to create their own Tiffany lamp through an interactive digital installation. 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, as part of the 4th floor's revamp, a new North Gallery will host items from the society's permanent collection—such as a copper globe from 1542 that traces Giovanni da Verrazzano's voyage—in fifteen themed niches. The Gallery of Tiffany Lamps, Joyce B. Cowin's History Gallery, and North Gallery will open April 8th. A new 4th floor multimedia center, which will feature scanners, computers, a 3D printer, and more, will come online this summer. This article appears on HoverPin, a new app that lets you build personalized maps of geo-related online content based on your interests: architecture, food, culture, fitness, and more. Never miss The Architect’s Newspaper’s coverage of your city and discover new, exciting projects wherever you go! See our HoverPin layer here and download the app from the Apple Store.
Earlier today, Governor Cuomo announced that the New-York Historical Society will partner with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to preserve the spontaneous “Subway Therapy” installations that appeared throughout New York City subway stations in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory, which was largely predicated on openly racist, misogynist, and xenophobic rhetoric, as well as the denial of climate science. The project was created when artist Matthew Levee Chavez brought sticky notes and pens to subway stations in the days following the election results, and encouraged New Yorkers to “express their thoughts, feel less alone, and also become exposed to opinions different than their own,” Chavez said. Working with the artist, the New-York Historical Society will archive the sticky notes as “an emblem of emotion and humanity in the month following the [2016 national] election,” according to a press release. "Over the last six weeks, New Yorkers have proved that we will not let fear and division define us. Today, we preserve a powerful symbol that shows how New Yorkers of all ages, races, and religions came together to say we are one family, one community and we will not be torn apart," said Governor Cuomo. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society spoke of the way “ephemeral items in particular can become vivid historical documents,” and the importance of ensuring “future generations can understand the historical impact of present events.” “‘Subway Therapy’ perfectly evokes this historic moment,” Mirrer said of the participatory art piece. As the removal of the sticky notes is already underway, the public will still be able to participate in the project, this Tuesday through Inauguration Day on January 20th, by placing sticky notes on the glass wall inside New-York Historical Society’s front entrance, located on Central Park West at 77th Street.
Annals of Computing: “Silicon City” exhibition at the New York Historical Society questions origins of the digital era
Radical inventions that lead to profound societal transformations tend to be accompanied by founding myths and overlapping claims for authorship. Once a certain founding story has been widely accepted, research will periodically uncover it as being false, and the evidence for an alternate narrative will emerge. Trying to change accepted founding myths is notoriously difficult: Gutenberg built his printing press after centuries of development in printmaking across the world, but his name is strongly tied to the advent of the printing revolution. Importantly, the significance of a figure like Gutenberg and the related story becomes a point of local pride. The founding myth of computing is a multifaceted story still in the process of being created. Since the invention of computing simultaneously challenged notions of collaboration and the concept of individual authorship, tracing the genesis of this technology is particularly demanding. Silicon City: Computer History Made in New—an exhibition that opened recently at the New York Historical Society—finds the roots of the digital era in the New York region. The curvilinear exhibition design is anchored by three bulbous spaces housing thematic multi-screen installations. The first spheroid is a mini- recreation of the egg shaped IBM pavilion at the 1964–1965 New York World’s Fair. The original Information Machine designed by Eero Saarinen allowed 400 guests to view a show directed by Charles and Ray Eames—a spectacle on twenty-two screens of various shapes and sizes. A second cavern, reminiscent of Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes, is housing a video reel showing pioneering collaborations between artists and engineers in the 1960s. These include 9 Evenings: Theater and Engineering, a series of large scale performatic live events at the Armory. Engineers worked with artists from various disciplines—including Robert Rauschenberg, Steve Paxton and John Cage—to create custom technical equipment including responsive systems and participatory apparatuses. These early experiments in digital art were certainly enabled by a convergence of artistic and technological talent only possible in New York. Meandering between these video installations, the core of the exhibition is tracing local achievements of the history of computing from the 1800s to the 1980s, showcasing a number of stunningly beautiful technological artifacts. Highlights include a IBM SSEC console, a large table with hundreds of regularly spaced knobs originally located in the IBM headquarters on Madison Avenue. Another fascinating device is a matrix of jacks connected by plug-in cords, programmed by making physical connections. These objects are accompanied by image documentation, in some instances highlighting the undervalued role of female engineers. Images of exceptional figures like Grace Hopper—a native New Yorker—teaching the coding language COBOL she helped to develop at IBM, reinstate the importance of women in the early development of computers. A section on identity branding and design highlights the work of Paul Rand and Eliot Noyles at IBM and a gallery on graphics, music and games presents a medley of various gaming consoles and cultural artifacts. A third immersive capsule ends the show with a multimedia showcase highlighting current tech companies and startups in New York, providing a uplifting outlook reinstating New York as a city thriving with digital technologies. Focussing on the development of technology from a local perspective produces some astonishing omissions—the military, a driving financial and ideological force behind the development of computers is barely mentioned. Nevertheless, filled with fascinating objects, the show presents one facet of a transformative global invention. Mythicizing the development of early computing as a New York story, it delivers a rich kaleidoscope of locally based innovation.
The New York Historical Society announced today that Czech architect Eva Jiřičná will design a new space for exhibitions and study on the 20,000 square foot fourth floor of the society's Central Park West building. The 3,000 square foot, two story gallery will showcase the society's permanent collection of Tiffany lamps. The gallery, Jiřičná's first major New York project, will feature one of the architect's signature glass staircases. The floor will also be home to complementary entities, including the Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture, the Center for the Study of Women's History. The design recalls earlier work, like the Jewellery Gallery at London's Victoria & Albert Museum, and the residential interior for a client in Mayfair, London. In the Tiffany Gallery, islands of curved, floor-to-ceiling glass frame each lamp while allowing a 360 degree view. To be viewed as originally intended, the lamps will be illuminated in the darkened gallery. The gallery's mezzanine, connected to the lower level's exhibition via the glass staircase, contains additional lamps and a more traditional, rectilinear program. The programming on the mezzanine will feature exhibitions on the lamp-making process. Though it sounds incongruous at first, there is a strong connection between the Center for the Study of Women's History and Tiffany lamps. Clara Driscoll and her "Tiffany Girls" designed and fabricated many of Tiffany's most famous lamps, including the Wisteria (ca. 1901) and Dragonfly (ca. 1900–1906). Jiřičná's design will unify the themes expressed in the collection. The space is expected to open to the public in early 2017.
The lower level of the New York Historical Society was lively last Friday morning at the ribbon cutting for the new DiMenna Children’s History Museum and the Barbara K. Lipman Children’s History Library. Young New Yorkers were trying out a number of new, interactive activities in the vibrant 4,000 square-foot vaulted space. Pavilions divide the space into various programs including biographical information on figures such as Alexander Hamilton and James McCune Smith, viewing changing New York sites throughout history. In the library, children will also have access to rare books and maps from the Society’s collection. The Children’s History Museum has been in the works for three to four years as part of the Historical Society’s $65 million renovation. Architects from Lee H. Skolnick Architecture and Design Partnership worked closely with museum curators to design a permanent exhibit dedicated to educating children on history. Lee Skolnick, the principal architect of the firm, has extensive design experience, spanning thirty years, on children’s museums. But here, Peter Hyde, associate and senior exhibit designer, distinguished, “We have done history museums and children’s museums, but never a children’s history museum.” The overall concept of the exhibit presented various challenges for curators as well as the architects: how to convey historical events to children in an exciting and engaging way. The design of the space along with its content intends to relate New York kids to history by exploring famous as well as everyday historical figures as children.