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A Glorious Staircase

   

The second class main staircase of the RMS Queen Mary was a wonderous creation.  Starting on Promenade deck just forward of the smoking room, it wrapped around a pair of beautifully veneered elevators and descended eight decks. (The twin elevators served nine decks.)  The inner walls of the staircase were the casings for the elevators. They were covered with shimmering silvered wire art glass depicting the history of transportation. The most recent advances were at the top level, while the earliest were at the lowest level.  Recently Michael Davisson identified the signature of artist Sigmund Pollitzer on the 2nd Class Main Staircase glass panels.

                           



Sigmund Pollitzer's work is in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. 

See: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O2363/sculpture-still-waters/   

According to their website: "Sigmund Pollitzer was chief designer at Pilkingtons from 1933 to 1938 and was responsible for decorative glass features in a number of prestigious interiors from international exhibitions to the 'Queen Mary'. He was also interested in individual art works as in this sculpture. 'Cullet' is the waste from the molten glass process."

The top four levels of this staircase remain insitu while the three lower levels were removed in the Long Beach conversion of the Queen Mary.  Let's visit what remains and then ponder what happened to the rest.

  
 
Here the uppermost level of the staircase meets Promenade Deck.

                    
      The second class smoking room, now used as a wedding chapel.



Here we see the panels as we descend the staircase.

   
... then curves around the elevators


... and here the staircase meets Main Deck.  

                   
The second class main lounge as it looked in the 1930's .... and then descends again to A Deck.

            
            
            
             
                                         
                      

                       
           
           
The crosswalk space on B Deck.  The postwar linoleum is exposed here.
       
           
The same space while the Queen Mary was in service.  The linoleum is the prewar pattern.

As the staircase descends to R Deck, a "crew only area", the condition of the glass rapidly deteriorates -- and then disappears altogether.

                    
         
          
One of the two panels that was removed in 2008 and moved up to the Chelsea Rstaurant Lobby has now been returned.

         
The second panel is also back in situ.

           
Where the staircase once met R Deck the glass panels have been removed -- along with a portion of the handrail.

The staircase now disappears at R Deck, (formerly C Deck), where the second class dining room was once located.   The R Deck cross space now  serves as an employee entrance lobby.  

           
 


It once served as the entrance to the elegant lobby to second class dining room.

                
The second class dining room as it once looked.  It has been virtually destroyed through ill use as a storage space in Long Beach. (Colorization courtesy of Michael Davisson.)  

The staircase as built descended another three levels, down to the second class swimming bath and the elevator actually went (and still goes ) down a deck further.   

The architecturally important second class pool on E Deck that was destroyed in the Long Beach conversion.  It was replaced with public toilets.  Colorization by Michael Davisson.

What happened to the rest of the art glass from the three missing levels?  There were 18 art glass panels on the three levels removed.  Apparently one piece was reused in the first class swimming pool area in place of the flying swan mosaic that was either destroyed or stolen during the conversion.  (See below.)


                 

A piece of art glass from the second class staircase "repurposed" in the first class pool area.


Another piece -- or is it two pieces? - can be seen in forward storage casually leaning against a bulkhead.  That leaves another  15 or 16 panels to account for.  Also missing are all the art glass panels from the second class dining room pictured above.  As far as I'm concerned there should be no statute of limitation on concern for missing art and artifacts from the Queen Mary Collection. 





Here is how the work of Sigmund Pollitzer, an artist whose work is in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, is treated on Long Beach's Queen Mary.



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