Now, that perspective will be a little clearer, thanks to a donation of new glass flooring for the walkway surrounding the exhibit by Crystal Window & Door Systems.
“The whole city shines through because of your gift,” said museum executive director Sally Tallant. “For the first time, you can actually see the Bronx. We can walk around the Panorama and actually have the experience of flying through the space.”
Several members of the museum Board of Directors, as well as Councilman Barry Grodenchik, joined Tallant and Crystal Window founder Thomas Chen at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Crystal Walkway on February 25.
A team of ten workers from Crystal Window worked to fit and replace more than 100 custom made tiles of special glass for the walkway in just a few weeks.
Chen has been a board member of the museum for 15 years. Over the course of that time, he has become a major sponsor of the museum’s exhibit space. Chen raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for programming, including $250,000 for the Queens Museum’s Taiwan Gallery.
When the museum approached him about restoring the glass walkway, Chen saw it as another opportunity to invest in an institution that means a lot to him.
“I couldn’t refuse,” he said.
As an expression of gratitude for Chen’s donation, the Queens Museum named one of the buildings in the 10,000-square-foot Panorama - the world’s largest architectural scale model - after Crystal Windows, presenting him with a certificate of ownership.
Commissioned by Robert Moses for the 1964 World's Fair, the Panorama was designed as a celebration of the city’s infrastructure. The original exhibit featured a continuous lighting cycle that simulated the daily transition from dawn to dusk to night.
The lighting system was recently updated to LED, and many model buildings were decorated with phosphorescent paint in order to glow under the “nighttime” black light.
The 1964 Panorama also offered a nine-minute “helicopter” ride around the model in molded plastic tracked cars. This came with a guided tour called “The City of Opportunity,” read by famed broadcaster Lowell Thomas.