America's Museum of Glass
Glass is almost as
ubiquitous as plastic, and it’s been around for thousands of years. One
of the best places to get a good look at its long history is the Corning
Museum of Glass in Corning, New York. The story of glass is a story
about art, history, culture, technology, science, craft and design.
Established in 1951 by Corning Glass Works for the company’s 100th
anniversary, The Corning Museum of Glass dedicates itself to exploring
glass. Its campus is home to the world’s most comprehensive collection
of glass, the world’s foremost library on glass, and one of the top
glassworking schools in the world.
The original Museum and library, housed in a low, glass-walled building
designed by Harrison & Abramovitz, opened in 1951. By 1978, it had
outgrown its space. Gunnar Birkerts designed a new addition, creating a
flowing series of galleries with the library at their core, linked to
the old building via light-filled, windowed ramps. The new Museum opened
to the public on May 28, 1980, exactly 29 years after its first opening.
But by the early 1990s, the Museum was once more overflowing its
exhibition space. The first to be added was The Studio, a
state-of-the-art teaching facility for glassblowing and coldworking
which opened for classes in 1996.
Even the modern glass architecture of the Museum’s buildings is unique.
It’s buildings, spread over 10 acres, have been influenced by three
generations of architects, all of whom shared the goal of creating a
fluid space and incorporating glass wherever possible.
The Contemporary Art and Design Wing and Amphitheater Hot Shop is the
most recent addition to the complex. Opened in March 2015, this
100,000-square-foot facility a 26,000-square-foot gallery and is the
largest space in the country dedicated to the display of contemporary
The Glass Collection
Museum’s collection includes over 50,000 objects representing more than
3,500 years of glass artistry, from the portrait of an ancient Egyptian
pharaoh to contemporary sculpture.
It’s collection of contemporary artworks includes pieces by significant
artists such as Klaus Moje, Karen LaMonte, Bruno Pedrosa, Dale Chihuly,
Libenský / Brychtová and Josiah McElheny. The Glass Collection
Galleries, exploring Near Eastern, Asian, European, and American glass
and glassmaking from antiquity through the present day. showcase the
most comprehensive and celebrated glass collection in the world. The
galleries tell the story of glass creation, from a full-scale model of
an Egyptian furnace, to the grand factories of Europe, to the
small-scale furnaces that fueled the Studio Glass movement that began in
America in 1962.
The galleries also display objects representing every country and
historical period in which glassmaking has been practiced. They include:
Glass in Nature, Origins of Glassmaking, Glass of the Romans, Glass in
the Islamic World, Early Northern European Glass, The Rise of Venetian
Glassmaking, Glass in 17th-19th Century Europe, 19th Century European
Glass, Asian Glass, Glass in America, Corning: From Farm Town to
“Crystal City,” Paperweights of the World and Modern Glass.
The Study Gallery is filled with a wide range of objects from all
periods. The Frederick Carder Gallery features an extensive collection
of glass designed by Frederick Carder, a gifted English designer who
managed Steuben Glass Works from its founding in 1903 until 1932. During
this time, the production of Steuben changed from various types of
colored glass to colorless glass.
The Museum's Ben W.
Heineman Sr. Gallery of Contemporary Glass focuses on vessels, objects,
sculptures, and installations made by international artists from 1975 to
2010. The purpose of the gallery is to show the different ways in which
glass has been used in art, craft, and design.
Besides its permanent collection, the Corning Museum of Glass mounts
special exhibitions which have included: Medieval Glass for Popes,
Princes and Peasants, East Meets West: Cross-Cultural Influences in
Glassmaking in the 18th and 19th Centuries and Mirror to Discovery: The
200-Inch Disk and the Hale Reflecting Telescope at Palomar. It also
features periodic shows focused on specific glass artists.
But the Museum is more than a vast exhibition of historic glass. It
brings glass to life through live, narrated glassworking demonstrations.
Some of these daily demonstrations take place in a renovated historic
glass factory building that contains one of the world’s largest
facilities of its kind, with auditorium-style seating for 500. For
visitors who wish to try their hand at making glass, the Museum offers
Make Your Own Glass sessions for beginners.
Visitors can watch live daily glassmaking demonstrations or learn to
make glass at the Museum. These demonstrations allow visitors to get a
better understanding of both the art and science of glassmaking. In The
Hot Glass Show, one of the museum's glass blowers provides a live glass
blowing demonstration. At each demonstration, the glassmaker takes a
glob of molten glass and shapes the globs into vases, bowls, or
sculptures. Throughout the demonstration, a narrator describes the
process, and cameras give viewers a close-up look into the furnaces
where the glass is heated. The show gives viewers a look into an ancient
Roman technique that is still used today for glass making. Each show
lasts between 20 and 40 minutes.
There’s so much to see and do that it’s possible to spend an entire day
at the Museum.
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