A federal grant has been announced to help preserve rare pieces of Americana in Springfield, Massachusetts.
The Springfield Museums have been awarded a grant of nearly $107,000 from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services to restore 20 Tiffany stained glass windows that officials said are the last of their kind in the United States. The windows are original to the main façade of the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum which opened in 1896.
Congressman Richard Neal said the grant, which the Springfield Museums will match, is prestigious and competitive.
" Much of the success of our great cultural institutions in America is heavily dependent on a combination of public and private investment," said Neal.
Neal, who announced the grant Wednesday along with museum officials and benefactors, spoke of his great fondness for the Springfield Museums and said the window restoration demonstrates a commitment to preserve the institution for future generations.
" These institutions in terms of physical standing are old, so the upgrade is regularly required," said Neal.
The Tiffany stained glass windows are extremely rare according to Kay Simpson, President of the Springfield Museums.
" We are the only American art museum to have Tiffany stained glass windows that were originally commissioned for them," she explained.
The windows have deteriorated because of age, exposure to city pollution and the harsh New England weather.
" Over time the windows get a condition known as ' lead fatigue'. The lead gets soft and starts to collapse and the windows become wavy. So it is essential to stabilize them," said Simpson.
Restoring the 20 windows will take several months to complete.
" It involves taking the windows to a studio in Great Barrington where the windows are taken apart. They'll get new lead framework for the glass pieces and then the windows will be brought back to the museum and reinstalled," said Simpson.
The funds used to match the federal grant came from the Springfield Museum’s $7 million capital campaign.
Most of the funds being raised in the campaign are going to develop a new museum scheduled to open next year that will showcase the life and works of Theodore Geisel, the Springfield-born author of the Dr. Seuss books.
$5.7 million has been raised so far in the campaign that is scheduled to conclude at the end of the year.