Following the sold-out success of the Driehaus Museum’s living history tour about Gilded Age domestic servants, the museum’s 2013-14 exhibition Louis Comfort Tiffany: Treasures from the Driehaus Collection offered an opportunity for a new historical viewpoint.
Agnes Northrop and Clara Driscoll were two exceptionally talented designers employed by New York’s Tiffany Studios in the Women’s Glass Cutting Workshop in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The recent discovery of Mrs. Driscoll’s letters to her sisters and mother during this period has provided a wealth of information about the lives and work of these “Tiffany Girls,” as they were nicknamed.
With Mrs. Driscoll and Miss Northrop as guides, the Tiffany Girls Studio Tour explores the inspiration behind some of Tiffany Studios’ most iconic lamps and window designs, from the vantage point of the women who were most intimate with the process. Launched in honor of Women’s History Month 2014, the tour also explores labor issues, life for a woman in late nineteenth-century Chicago and New York, and gender roles in the workplace.
The tour is also designed to be highly interactive. As the guests arrive, they are–similar to a murder mystery party–given unique identities, personalities, and histories, as well as a budget to “spend” on lamps, grand window commissions, or intimate bronze objects, all productions of the Women’s Glass Cutting Department.
I extensively researched the period, dialects, important figures, and glassmaking process. Actors were given a complete training packet including script, character profiles, information about relevant historical events and cultural distinctions, history of Tiffany Studios and the Women’s Glass Cutting Department, and technical details relating to its unique glassmaking process. I trained and reviewed rehearsals, assisted in prop selection and event flow, contributed to visitor engagement strategy, and created copy for promotional print and online efforts.