The New-York historical society’s new Center for Women’s History, located on the recently renovated fourth floor of its Beaux-Arts granite building (circa 1908 and ’38) on Central Park West, is said to be the first of its kind in the United States. At its heart, a permanent exhibition of Tiffany lamps is a revelation, not only for the breadth of the collection and the fact that many of its 100 leaded-glass fixtures—in particular those with nature-themed motifs—were designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany–protégé Clara Driscoll and fabricated by women at his studio, but also for the luminous setting in which these works are showcased.

Created by London-based Czech architect Eva Jiřičná, with PBDW Architects and dpa lighting consultants, the 4,800-square-foot, bi-level Gallery of Tiffany Lamps is like a jewel box, lined with a deep, lapis-blue vaulted ceiling made of glass fiber reinforced gypsum and decorative metal wall panels, grounded by black rubber floors. Perforated convex screens, also blue, conceal ductwork below the ceiling.

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At the entrance, a delicately curved stair made of tempered, laminated glass spirals up to a mezzanine. Braced by vertical fin-like supports pinned to the floor slab and a beam in the ceiling, its treads are discreetly lit by cool-white 5000-Kelvin LEDs, with an even light distribution facilitated by a slip-resistant, sandblasted pattern on their surface. The low-iron-glass stair’s structural elements are similarly illuminated at the top and bottom. With its lighting dimmed to an icy glow, this sculptural centerpiece is a distinct contemporary counterpoint to the warmth of the surrounding Tiffany fixtures, which date from the turn of the 20th century and are retrofitted with customized 2600-Kelvin LED filament and A-style bulbs that fit into the historic sockets. Each lamp on display is controlled by its own dimmer, to maintain a pleasing balance of light that will complement the many unique shades.

Floor and table lamps are displayed in curving glass cases, elevated on dark metal plinths so that they appear to float across the lower level. The mezzanine, too, seems to hover. Pulled away from the walls, it is suspended by steel hangers from the trusses. This allows for double-height vitrines, some containing Tiffany pendants, around the room’s perimeter. These alternate with the wall panels, overlaid with abstract graphics inspired by Driscoll’s designs. The exhibit continues on the upper level with blue custom flat-file cabinets, holding such presentations as an interactive “Design-a-Lamp” device, backlit drawers with shards of vintage glass, and examples of authentic versus counterfeit fixtures.

As with her 2008 Jewelry Gallery for the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Jiřičná has succeeded in devising a subtly layered and intimate exhibit space—one that invites us to indulge in the craftsmanship, finishes, and quality of the artifacts; their color, form, and, above all, their radiance.



Eva Jiřičná Architects

38 Warren Street, Third Floor

London W1T 6AE

020 7554 2400


Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:

Eva Jiřičná, Georgina Papthanasiou, Duncan Webster and Ida Szymanska 


Architect of record:

PBDW Architects

49 West 37th Street, 4th Floor

New York, NY 10018



Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:

Scott Duenow, AIA; Brigitte Cook, AIA; Edward May




Structural Engineer:  Silman

Stair Structural Engineer:  Glass Light & Special Structures Ltd.

MEP and LEED Engineer:  ADS Engineers

Lighting Control Systems and Integration – Westview Productions



Lighting Designer:  DPA Lighting Consultants — Nick Hoggett, Partner; David Moore, Ian Clarke, Associates; Ashley Rogers, Designer 

Elevator Consultant:  IROS Elevator Design Services

Graphics:  Poulin + Morris

Interactive Exhibits:  Small Design Firm

Code Consultant:  Design 2147

LEED: ADS Engineers

AV/IT: Electrosonic Inc.


General contractor:

RC Dolner Construction



Jon Wallen


Structural System

Glass Staircase: Clifford Chapman

Structural Steel: Burgess Steel



Casework: Meyvaert Glass Engineering



Fire-control doors: TGP


Interior Finishes

Wall coverings: Anne Kyyro Quinn

Paneling: Meyvaert Glass Engineering

Special surfacing: Nora Systems

Special interior finishes unique to this project: Formglas Ceilings



Segula – LED retro-fit lamps for within the Tiffany Lamps

Edison Price – Track lighting

Lucifer Lighting – Downlights

Philips/Color Kinetics – Linear LED cove lighting installations

Osram Sylvania – Linear LED

Cooper Lighting – General purpose linear LED luminaires for ‘back of house’/storage areas

Luxam Fibre Optics – Display case lighting

KKDC – Linear LED [including within the Tiffany Staircase]

ACDC lighting – Recessed floor washlights & emergency downlights to Tiffany Staircase

XAL – Trimless ceiling luminaires

Applelec – LED Light Sheet for label decks in display cases

Roblon – LED fixtures in specific display cases

Dimming system or other lighting controls:  Westview Productions



Wheelchair Lift: Handi-Lift



Tristate Plumbing Services Corp



Nelson Air



Schneider Electric