Tucked into the rolling fields of upstate New York, you will find Ancient Egyptian perfume bottles and space-age telescope lenses. These objects and many thousands more are on view at the Corning Museum of Glass—a museum devoted to the history and use of the ubiquitous material. From enormous glass sculptures to delicate Venetian goblets, this museum offers educational exhibits and interactive fun for the whole family.
Scroll down to learn more about the Corning Museum of Glass and all it has to offer.
The museum was founded in 1951 by Corning Glass Works, a company known as the original producers of Pyrex glassware. At the museum, visitors will encounter the 3,500 years of glass history which predated this iconic kitchenware staple. An exhibit on the long history of glass details the development in technology and style from opaque core-formed vessels to modern machine-produced products. With a peek inside an Egyptian furnace and videos of artists cutting lead crystal, the exhibit places examples of historical glass alongside the processes used to create each piece.
Learning a bit about the history of glassmaking will help visitors appreciate the work of the modern glass artists on display in the Contemporary Gallery. From mold-cast glass pyramids to flying glass “boats,” the versatility of glass as an artistic medium is celebrated. Contemporary artists such as Dale Chihuly showcase towering sculptures that seem to defy gravity. Down the hall in the Heineman Gallery, visitors can gaze upon mid-century colorful vases by the famed glassmaker Blenko.
Despite its vast collection of art objects, the Corning Museum of Glass is also a science museum. The museum's Innovation Galleries offer interactive exhibits for all ages on glass-related topics including optics, window designs, and the chemistry of glassmaking. Learn about a variation on traditional glass which is especially heat resistant—called Borosilicate glass, it is your Pyrex that can go in the oven. The museum has even collaborated with Google on a virtual exhibit on this revolutionary invention.
Activities for All Ages
The museum's exhibits and interactive galleries might inspire an urge to try your hand at glassmaking. The museum itself offers a variety of courses and one-time workshops on making your own glass. You can learn about glass fusing—using high heat to melt colorful glass chips together to decorate frames, wind chimes, and clocks. With the help of trained instructors, visitors of all ages can even blow their own glass ornaments to take home and display.
The Corning Museum of Glass maintains a world class studio, which draws glass artists from all over the world for classes and residencies. Visitors to the museum have the chance to watch artists at work during daily glassblowing demonstrations. With handy narration to explain each step, artists show off their design skills while working quickly under the high heat of a furnace or torch. Molten glass becomes art before your eyes in these mesmerizing shows you won't want to miss.
The Corning Museum of Glass is appealing to all ages and it's wheelchair accessible. The museum is located just outside the small city of Corning, New York. With a population of about 11,000, this small community has several charming streets lined with 19th-century brick facades and affordable restaurants. Not far south of the Finger Lakes, a visit to Corning is worth adding to the itinerary of any vacation in upstate New York's beautiful wine country.
Check out the Corning Museum of Glass' website to learn more about this fascinating museum, its history, and its collections.