Tiffany dome undergoing restoration

April 16, 2008 4:39:04 PM PDT
Louis Comfort Tiffany was his name and back in the late 1800's and early 1900's he created some of the world's most beautiful stained glass art. Here in Chicago his most spectacular work is a large stained glass dome in the city's cultural center. The dome is currently undergoing a renovation and ABC7's Frank Mathie has the story.

On top of the cultural center we can see that the old Tiffany dome is covered with a tarp. But within a few months it will be removed and the sun will shine in on a dazzling restoration. This world's largest Tiffany dome was installed in 1897, and at the time, the City of Chicago was making a proud statement that its cowtown days were long gone.

"Chicago was emerging at that time and cities were all trying to outdo each other. Certainly Chicago was trying to plant itself architecturally as a prominent world city," said Matthew Nielson, Department of Cultural Affairs

And now almost 110 years of dirt, grime and some bad restorations are being removed. Cast iron covered with corrosion is being renewed and the gold is back.

"For the course of about a year and a half we've conducted analyses and studies to discover what were the original finishes, and what we're looking to do is restore those finishes to the way they originally appeared," said Tony Kartsonas, architectural conservator.

The real glass was removed back in December and temporarily replaced with plastic. Thirty-thousand pieces of Tiffany stained glass ... and they are all at the Botti Studio in Evanston, where they are putting back together an unbelievable jigsaw puzzle.

For over 150 years the Botti Studio has been restoring stained glass art to its original beauty.

"Cleaning each piece of glass and then reassembling it in preparation to have it put back into the dome as it was meant to be seen over a hundred years ago," said Michael Smaucha, Botti Studio.

The stained glass and the dome will be ready by June 30. That's when it will be unveiled.


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