From private passion to public museum
The Neustadt was founded in 1969 when Dr. Egon Neustadt transformed his private passion into a public treasure. Initially called The Egon and Hildegard Neustadt Museum of Tiffany Art, the collection was housed and displayed in Dr. Neustadt’s so-called ‘apartment-museum,’ a townhouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan that was open by appointment only. The interior was a veritable Aladdin’s cave, overflowing with glowing lamps and windows. Visitors recall being awed by the display, which featured row after row of Tiffany table lamps, some displayed on rotating turntables, and an abundance of colorful shades hanging overhead.
Following Dr. Neustadt’s death in 1984, the museum and its collection were overseen and maintained by a small Board of Trustees charged with keeping Dr. Neustadt’s legacy alive. Because of visitation and storage constraints, the Trustees removed the museum collection from Dr. Neustadt’s townhouse and investigated other display opportunities. They organized a loan exhibition of collection highlights, which traveled for several years to leading museums across the southeast. This early initiative laid the groundwork for the traveling exhibition program that continues today, which has shared Dr. Neustadt’s extraordinary collection with over one million visitors across the country to date.
In 1995, The Neustadt partnered with the Queens Museum to present portions of the collection to local New York City audiences and offer Tiffany-related educational programs. This partnership has special significance because Tiffany’s glass furnaces, metal foundry, and various workshops were located in Corona, Queens, less than two miles from the Museum. When the Queens Museum’s 2013 expansion doubled the size of their building, The Neustadt’s dedicated gallery was relocated to the new wing. Through changing exhibitions in The Neustadt Gallery, visitors enjoy the beauty of this superlative collection and gain a deeper appreciation of the artworks through discussions of materials, making, and historical context.
In addition to its dedicated gallery and active traveling exhibition program, The Neustadt also partners with leading museums to co-organize special exhibitions, including Louis C. Tiffany and the Art of Devotion (2012), with the Museum of Biblical Art, and Tiffany’s Glass Mosaics (2017), with the Corning Museum of Glass.
In 2019 The Neustadt celebrated its 50th anniversary with a scholarly symposium, Beguiled by Tiffany: 125 Years of Collecting. Leading Tiffany scholars explored the past, present, and future of collecting artworks by Tiffany and highlighted some of the personalities and passions of influential Tiffany collectors. That same year, The Neustadt also opened its Tiffany Glass Archive to the public for behind-the-scenes, curator-led tours.
Looking ahead, The Neustadt is moving into the next frontier of museum engagement – the ever-evolving digital landscape – with exciting virtual programs and new video content that will continue to share Dr. Neustadt’s passion for Tiffany with increasingly diverse audiences around the globe.