Technical Assistance

Conservancy’s Emergency Grant Helps Museum at Eldridge Street

Conservancy’s Emergency Grant Helps Museum at Eldridge Street
Conservancy’s Emergency Grant Helps Museum at Eldridge Street
Conservancy’s Emergency Grant Helps Museum at Eldridge Street
Conservancy’s Emergency Grant Helps Museum at Eldridge Street
-Oculus with outer panels removed, Photo credit: Neil Lawner
Conservancy’s Emergency Grant Helps Museum at Eldridge Street
Conservancy’s Emergency Grant Helps Museum at Eldridge Street
-One of the panels, Photo credit: Neil Lawner
Conservancy’s Emergency Grant Helps Museum at Eldridge Street
Conservancy’s Emergency Grant Helps Museum at Eldridge Street
-Removing panels, Photo credit: Neil Lawner
Conservancy’s Emergency Grant Helps Museum at Eldridge Street
Conservancy’s Emergency Grant Helps Museum at Eldridge Street
-Restored oculus
Conservancy’s Emergency Grant Helps Museum at Eldridge Street
Conservancy’s Emergency Grant Helps Museum at Eldridge Street
-Scaffold in the center of the sanctuary
Conservancy’s Emergency Grant Helps Museum at Eldridge Street
Conservancy’s Emergency Grant Helps Museum at Eldridge Street
-Scaffold in the center of the sanctuary, Photo credit: Neil Lawner

A Conservancy Emergency Preservation Grant stabilized and restored the beautiful but imperiled central stained glass skylight at the Museum at Eldridge Street housed in the historic Eldridge Street Synagogue.

The skylight, or oculus, is set in the central ceiling vault over the sanctuary. It is over ten feet in diameter and is composed of a dozen stained glass panels set in a colorful geometric pattern. The enormous central brass chandelier hangs from its center. Museum staff were extremely concerned when they noticed that sections of the skylight were displaced and in danger of falling out of their frames. Quick action needed to be taken. The Conservancy’s $16,000 grant allowed the museum to immediately install floor-to-ceiling scaffolding at the center of the sanctuary that allowed stained glass artisans to inspect and remove the stained glass panels one by one.

In order to build the scaffold, the central chandelier had to be pulled aside and held with ropes, a delicate task of its own. Once the panels were at the conservator’s studio, they were repaired and reinforced with new steel ribs that will not be visible from below. The panels were reinstalled by late March with minimum disruption to the Museum’s programs. Additionally, the attic fan, which keeps the air above the oculus from overheating, was replaced. It was the failure of the old fan and the subsequent rise in temperature that lead to the warping of the stained glass panels.

“We are deeply grateful to the Landmarks Conservancy for its support,“ said Eva Brune, the Museum’s Vice President for Institutional Development. “The oculus was severely compromised and posed an immediate danger to visitors — and to the integrity of the historic window itself — if it had fallen.”

The Eldridge Street Synagogue (Herter Brothers, 1886-87) is now the Museum at Eldridge Street. It was meticulously restored and is today a cultural and educational center.


Tourist in Your Own Town #20 – Museum at Eldridge Street (Restored Synagogue) from New York Landmarks Conservancy on Vimeo.