56 cm Vase, blown, overlaid, applied, cut, polished, cast, gilded, and assembled. St. Petersburg, circa 1829.

Preserving 3,500 years of sand, ash, lime and fire.

by Adam Halterman

They make glass. By day and night,
the fires burn on…and bid the
sand let in the light.

-Carl Sandburg, In Reckless Ecstasy, 1904

Sand, ash, lime and fire: the glassmakers recipe has remained unchanged for thousands of years. But the world of glass is ever changing. Its history is the history of art, of technology, of architecture, and of civilization. Glass has held both the face of the Pharoah and the glimmer of distant galaxies. Of all mediums, it is the most mysterious in its creation and manipulation, capturing the mind of the artist as well as the mind of the scientist and pushing both realms to wondrous and unexpected heights.

It is this sense of wonder that brings over 400,000 visitors to The Corning Museum of Glass each year. The glass expert and the vacationing family alike are drawn to the Museum’s 30,000 piece collection. From high art to TV tubes, it offers a whole universe of glass.

But The Corning Museum of Glass, nestled in the beautiful Finger Lake region of upstate New York, is not merely a repository for 3,500 years of history, but a key player as well in the story of glass. For over 100 years Corning has been the glass capitol of America. Many of the hallmarks of modern industry, from light bulbs to fiber optics, were born here. It is only fitting that now, as the Museum celebrates its 50th anniversary, Corning makes history once again by expanding its programs, facilities, and collections to offer visitors the ultimate glass experience.

Director David Whitehouse explains the Museum’s mission as simply "to make glass exciting to everyone and to be sure that, when our visitors leave the Museum, they have a new or richer experience of glass, its properties, and its place in history."

This quest for mass intrigue is remarkably achieved through diverse collections and well-conceived exhibit areas. No matter what one’s interests may be, they will find something that grabs their attention.

The Art & History Galleries present 35 centuries of glassmaking, from Egyptian times through to the 19th century. Visitors will marvel at resonant beauty of Egyptian mosaics, Mesopotamian cast and cut vases and Hellenic bowls. The gallery also tells the story of the development of techniques, such as glassblowing in Roman times. The classic design of these Roman jars, cups and bowls provides the foundation upon which centuries of glassmaking and design will be built. In addition, the stunning glass of the Renaissance as well as Islamic, Asian, African and American pieces are displayed, providing a panoramic view of the global history of glass.

The Sculpture Gallery may be the place in the Museum that best conveys the enigma of glass. Housed here are over 90 works of glass sculpture, perfectly capturing the breadth and creativity of contemporary glass art. From Libensky’s monolithic Red Pyramid to Liskova’s confoundingly fragile Small Ikebana, this collection will surprise, intrigue and inspire.

The technological side of glass history is wonderfully captured at The Glass Innovation Center. It is an ultramodern, interactive, educational experience for all ages. Through dazzling demonstrations, it tells how the science and technology of glass, from the windows to the optical fiber, have transformed the world we live in. The Glass Innovation Center consists of the Optics, Windows, and Vessels galleries. You will look at your windshield in a whole new light!

The "Must See" programs offered to visitors are The Hot Glass Show and Flameworking Live. Michelangelo, on sculpting, once wrote of "freeing the figure trapped in the stone." This same creative force comes to life in Corning’s live glass shows. It is here that the mysteries of glasswork are revealed. It is here that the visitors young and old watch transfixed as an expert craftsman brings a ball of hot glass to life, transforming it into a unique piece of art glass. These shows take place daily and are often the highlight of a visit.

To make the visit complete, the Museum also offers two restaurants and gift shops offering a diverse assortment of contemporary glass, traditional crystal, paperweights, and related books and collectibles.

The Corning Museum of Glass is constantly expanding its collections, maintaining its reputation as the world’s premier glass collection. And now, to celebrate this historic anniversary, the Museum unveils four new facilities that will greatly expand the visitor experience.

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12" Gilded and enameled vase. Islamic, Syria, 14th century.

Reverse painting, Corning Glassworks 50th Anniversary Celebration, glass acrylic, paint, ink, and foil. Stratford, CT, Milton W. Bond, 1996.

Reactive paperweight vase, blown, with encased metallic oxides. Tiffany Studios, New York, NY, 1900-1908.

Wedding Goblet, blown, cased, cut, and engraved. New England Glass Company, East Cambridge, MA, 1860.


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