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Tuesday, December 10, 2013


As promised, here is the report of our trip to the Corning Museum of Glass over Thanksgiving weekend.  The bad news?  There is no easy way to get there from NYC but to drive there.  The good news?  It is well worth the long drive.  The admission is good for 2 days because you would be hard-pressed to see everything in one day.
This is the front of the museum.  Despite is unassuming entrance, treasures await.
The CMOG Christmas tree made of glass balls.

The first part of the museum is devoted to matters of science: Corningware, Pyrex, telescope lenses, specialty glass, fiber optics, and more.  There are also demos on glass blowing, lampwork, fiber optics, and glass breaking.
Here is our friend Stephney standing inside a tower of Corning bakeware. 
Who knew Pyrex was so old?
This interesting piece of glass is identified as a magnificent failure.  On March 25, 1934, 25 glassmakers spent 10 hours pouring 20 tons of molten Pyrex glass into a 200-inch (5-meter) mold in an attempt to make a mirror blank for the Palomar Observatory.  The disk broke but provided valuable lessons and the second attempt was successful.  You can see the cracks, ripples, and other imperfections.  How did they get this monstrous disk into the building?  They didn't.  The disk was already on the site and they built the structure around it.

Then it was on to the pretty stuff as we walked through an exhibit of modern glass.  This plate of giant fruit was one of my favorite pieces.

The Matron and The Shrew by Dan Dailey
Another interesting piece was Rainbow Noir by Kait Rhodes.  It is made of blown canes, cut, and assembled with copper wire.

After that, it was on to the special exhibit Life on a String: 35 Centuries of the Glass Bead.  Stephney and I had different opinions of the exhibit:  I wasn't terribly impressed with the exhibit but Stephney was more charitable.  The museum did have some nice pieces in the exhibit but the items were poorly displayed in low light, so it was hard to see a lot of the exhibit.
For example, wouldn't you like to get a better view of this ancient face bead?  So would we, but it was displayed in a large glass case under low light.
A great beaded bear--Big Bear by Sherry Markovitz--hung high on the wall.  
Here is a lovely beaded basket from 17th-century England.  The red background doesn't help viewing.

The other irritation was that photos of the exhibits were allowed...unless they weren't.  It got confusing to take a photo and find out that the description said "No Photos."  If you want to see more of the exhibit, here is a link to 22 photos taken by the museum staff:  Life on a String.   It turns out that part of the exhibit is also placed among the space with the permanent collection, but we stumbled across that later. 
Next we wandered into an exhibit of studio glass by Richard Marquis.
A piece by Richard Marquis.
Then it was time to be overwhelmed by the pieces from the permanent collection that were on display.  The collection goes from ancient Islamic and Roman glass on up to modern art glass.
A strand of 19th-century, European beads.
This Italian, mosaic portrait from around 1900 was one of my favorite pieces.

Some examples of ancient, Islamic glass.


The museum has a whole collection of lampworked-glass, scientific specimens made by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka working in Dresden, Germany in the late 1800s.
Detail of an 19th-century lamp that tickled me.
Beadwork egg and drinking glass collars.
Mosaic With Fish by Leopold Forstner made around 1925.  It is glass and enamel in cement.
A  vase by Emile Galle.
There are also paperweights galore.
 One of our favorite examples of art glass: Chess Set by Gianni Toso, made about 1981.  The chess pieces are Jewish and Roman Catholic religious figures.

Then it was time to for the gift shop.  Stephney and I are standing in a small part of the gift shop.

After that, it was time to start the long drive back to the City.  We were a little disappointed that we didn't have enough time to try making our own glass piece but that takes 2 days: you make your glass item on day 1 and leave it to anneal until day 2).  It was a tiny disappointment, though, because the museum is an amazing experience.  If you ever have a chance to visit it, do not hesitate.



  1. right behind you, in the last photo, is my favorite piece... the marble toy.... I could design a whole apartment around it and never get tired of watching. In all, the museum is beautifully overwhelming, isn't it?

  2. The marble things was great and I am sorry that I didn't get a photo. We were wondering how the clerks could stand listening to the noise all day long but it is fun for a little while. There is a larger version of this kind of sculpture at the Port Authority Bus Terminal here in NYC. We are so glad we took your advice to go to the museum!

  3. I'll have the Galle, please! And if you ever get to Winter Park, FL you must visit the Morse Museum...more Tiffany than you can digest in one visit. A wonderful gift shop as well. Thanks for the 'tour' of Corning!

  4. Isn't that Galle wonderful? The rest of his pieces weren't bad, either. Thanks for the tip on the Morse Museum; I have put it on my list of places to see.