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The Queen of Queens
by Bob Brooke

The Queens Museum resides in the former New York City Building, originally the New York City Pavilion at the 1939 World’s Fair. Being directly adjacent to the great icons of the Fair—the Trylon and Perisphere—it was one of the few buildings created for the Fair intended to be permanent. Now it’s the only surviving building from the 1939/40 Fair.

After the World’s Fair, the building became a recreation center for the newly created Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The north side of the building, now the Queens Museum, housed a roller rink and the south side offered an ice rink, as it still does today.

To the right of the Museum is New York’s Grand Central Parkway, originally planned by Robert Moses as a tree-lined roadway providing easy access to Jones Beach. Back in 1939, it stood opposite the famed Trylon and Perisphere, symbols of the future world of the Fair.

Architect, Aymer Embury III, one of Robert Moses’ favorite designers and the designer of the Central Park Zoo and the Tri-Borough Bridge, designed the building in a modern classical style, which was perhaps a little ironic given that the theme of the 1939 Fair was the “World of Tomorrow.” The exterior of the building featured colonnades behind which stood vast expanses of glass brick punctuated by limestone pilasters trimmed in dark polished granite, and solid corner blocks of limestone.

The museum building has had an illustrious history. After serving as one of the primary buildings at the Fair, it went on to become the first home of the General Assembly of the newly formed United Nations after World War II. Until the site of the UN’s current home in Manhattan became available, Flushing Meadows Corona Park was being considered as the organization’s future permanent headquarters site. During the early post-war years, almost every world leader spent time in the New York City Building, and they made many important decisions, including the partition of Palestine and the creation of UNICEF.

In preparation for the 1964 World’s, architect Daniel Chait once again renovated the New York City Building. He added a scalloped entry awning to the east façade and concrete brise-soleil used to cover all of the areas of glass brick. Again the building housed the New York City Pavilion, in which was the Panorama of the City of New York, which remains in the building and open to the public as part of the Museum’s collection.

As in 1939, the New York City Building, was at the center of the 1964 World’s Fair. It stands adjacent to the 140 foot high steel Unisphere, the symbol of the 1964 Fair’s theme of “Peace through Understanding.” After the Fair, the Panorama remained open to the public and the south side of the building returned to being an ice rink.

In 1972, the City of New York gave the north side of the New York City Building to the Queens Museum of Art, then known as the Queens Center for Art and Culture. In 1994, Rafael Viñoly significantly redesigned the existing space within the building, creating dramatic exhibition galleries. Recently, the Museum undertook a second renovation, doubling its size.

Besides its temporary exhibitions, the Queens Museum features two collections that reflect on the history of the area in which it’s located—Corona, the home of Tiffany Studios and the site of both the 1939 and 1964 New York World’s Fairs.

Since 1995 the Queens Museum of Art and the Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass have partnered to present and promote the art work of Louis C. Tiffany in the New York metropolitan area.

Tiffany: The Glass is an exhibition organized by The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass exploring the colors, patterns, textures and types of glass made for and used by Tiffany Studios. The installation includes two windows, eleven lampshades, and more than two hundred examples of flat glass and is on view in the Neustadt Gallery at the Queens Museum of Art.

Louis C. Tiffany was a prolific artist, decorator and designer but he’s best known for the leaded-glass windows, lamps, and mosaics made under his direction. This exhibition highlights some of the most commonly used types of opalescent glass produced at the Tiffany Furnaces in Corona, Queens, just blocks from the Queens Museum, as well as glass purchased from commercial glass manufacturers, including the Opalescent Glass Works in Kokomo, Indiana. The windows and lamps on display demonstrate some of the ways in which these distinctive materials were used to replicate the details of the natural world. This installation is the first of its kind and focuses on the beauty and diversity of the material used by Tiffany and his craftsmen to achieve an extraordinary range of effects in the depiction of flora, figures, and ornamental designs.

The Museum also has an impressive collection of objects from both World’s Fairs. In fact, it’s the only place where such a large collection has been amassed and exhibited. Through souvenirs, maps, and other memorabilia, visitors can experience the Fairs once again.
 


 

Read more about souvenirs from the 1939 NY World's Fair.


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How to Recognize and Refinish Antiques for Pleasure and Profit

Book: How to Recognizing and Refinishing Antiques for Pleasure and Profit
Have you ever bought an antique or collectible that was less than perfect and needed some TLC? Bob's new book offers tips and step-by- step instructions for simple maintenance and restoration of common antiques.

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Provided by: News-Antique.com