Museum features creator of many US tile vaults

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Building Museum is hosting an exhibit about a little-known craftsman whose work with tiles graces many of the greatest public buildings, from the Supreme Court to New York's Grand Central Terminal.

Rafael Guastavino immigrated to the United States from Barcelona in 1881 and patented a tiling method based on a Spanish technique that's hundreds of years old. His company went on to help define American architecture in hundreds of buildings with decorative tile ceilings.

The new exhibit "Palaces for the People" opening Saturday tells the story of Guastavino and his family's business from 1881 to 1962. The show runs through Jan. 20, 2014.

Guastavino's work can be found in 600 buildings in 36 states. They include the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, the National Cathedral, the Boston Public Library and the Nebraska state Capitol. The distinctive tiled arches in Grand Central are located inside the Oyster Bar and just outside the restaurant in an area known as the Whispering Gallery. They are among the best known features of the famous rail terminal, which is celebrating its centennial this year.