Eldridge Street Synagogue




New York Designs
Group Tour
Bonnie Dimun, Deborah Gans, Tom Garcia, and Amy Stein-Milford

Friday, April 8, 2011
9:30 a.m.
Museum at Eldridge Street
12 Eldridge Street

In October 2010, the Museum at Eldridge Street, located in the landmark Eldridge Street Synagogue, commissioned a monumental new stained-glass window by Kiki Smith and Deborah Gans. Join Gans, stained glass craftsman Tom Garcia, and Bonnie Dimun and Amy Stein-Milford of the Museum at Eldridge Street in a discussion of the window and tour of the restored Eldridge Street Synagogue.

The recently completed window is the only 21st-century element in the 1887 space, a National Historic Landmark. Weighing more than 6,000 pounds and composed of more than 1,200 pieces of glass, and not a single piece of lead, the new window weds traditional stained glass with modern technologies. Combining both Jewish and American motifs, it pays tribute to the aspirations of the synagogue’s 19th-century immigrant founders. The new window is the culminating piece of the Museum’s 24-year, awarding winning restoration of the Eldridge Street Synagogue.

The site for the new Kiki Smith-Deborah Gans design was originally a stained-glass rose window. That window was damaged over time and in 1944 the congregation opted to replace the window with tablet-shaped glass blocks. The glass blocks were an inexpensive option at the time, and the congregation, much diminished in size, did not have the resources to go with expensive stained glass. The Museum’s decision to commission a new window pays homage to the grand intent of the synagogue’s original immigrant founders. At the same time, it extends the story of the building. The Eldridge Street Synagogue now bridges three centuries – built in the 19th, prosperity and decline in the 20th, and renewal in the 21st.

Artist Kiki Smith and architect Deborah Gans collaborated on the design of the window. The commission of the window was overseen by Museum Executive Director Bonnie Dimun and Deputy Director Amy Stein-Milford. Tom Garcia’s The Gil Studio was responsible for the stained-glass work.

Deborah Gans is principal of Gansstudio, whose work ranges in scale from a school desk for the New York City SCA to a master plan for New Orleans East and focuses on new ways to define and engage the social realm. The work has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale, the Guggenheim, IFA Paris, RIBA London, and the Architectural League of New York.

Tom Garcia has been working as a stained glass craftsman since 1974. The Gil Studio, which he opened in 1989, is dedicated solely to the fabrication, restoration, and design of stained and leaded glass windows. The Gil Studio has received six Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards from the New York Landmarks Conservancy, as well as numerous other preservation awards.

Reservations are required. Due to the limited number of tickets and to facilitate fair access across our membership, reservations are limited to members only. Upper level members, including League Circle firms, are limited to two reservations. Please email anderson@archleague.org. Further program information will be given upon confirmation.

This program is made possible, in part, by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

Eldridge Museum Interior, copyright Peter Aaron/Esto

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