The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass is a treasure trove of all things Tiffany, from lamps to windows to more than a quarter of a million sheets and shards of colorful glass pieces.
It started in 1935, when Egon and Hildegard Neustadt were out shopping for a new dining room table in Greenwich Village. Hildegard became somewhat distracted by an old lamp with a stained-glass shade. The couple, who had emigrated from Austria, returned to the antique shop a few weeks later to purchase the stained-glass daffodil lampshade. And so began an obsession with Tiffany that would last a lifetime.
Over the course of the following half century, Egon Neustadt amassed a vast collection of Tiffany pieces. He began with lamps and moved on to include leaded-glass windows, desk sets, and anything else made by Louis Comfort Tiffany and his team of designers. Then, in 1967, Neustadt pounced on the opportunity to purchase a colossal cache of glass pieces: more than 250,000 original flat glass and pressed-glass “jewels” used by Tiffany Studios.
Two years later, the private Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass was opened in Long Island City. The warehouse was used to store and catalogue the massive collection, and Neustadt and his team began to sort and order the treasure trove of glass fragments by color. This was no mean feat, as the shards covered every possible shade imaginable, and were painstakingly ordered by type, color, texture and pattern.
The collection has remained independent and not-for-profit ever since. It’s also rarely open to the public, a source of much heartbreak for Tiffany aficionados. Public access is only granted a few days a year at best, such as when the doors briefly opened, Willy Wonka-style, for the Open House New York initiative in 2018.
The good news is that parts of the collection can be seen outside of the warehouse. In 1995, the Neustadt partnered with the Queens Museum, where it continues to display some of its best pieces in a permanent Tiffany gallery. The current curators also organize traveling exhibitions across the United States.