To enjoy Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG) you need not be a student of glass craft or a researcher in glass. From a pro to a novice, from artists to researchers - it offers something to everyone. The museum is located in Corning, a town in Upstate New York’s famous Finger Lakes region. Museum’s beautiful glass building gives a hint of an exciting world of glass it is holding in there. It has the world’s most comprehensive collection of glass objects exhibiting the history of glass spanning 3500 years.
We first entered into the Contemporary Glass Gallery. It exhibits various contemporary pieces of art crafted using glass. Along with sculptures one can see various tools and machinery used in glassworks. It showcases techniques like glassblowing, casting, stained glass, flame working etc. Each process and tool is described through animated narration which is quite informative.
The next in line were the Glass Collection Galleries. They show a wonderful glass objects collection from all over the world. In this gallery, one can explore the American, European and Asian glassworks from ancient times till present day. It has precious glass objects on display that have been discovered in different parts of the world and represent different eras of glassworks. It also has a full-scale model of an ancient Egyptian furnace used in glassworks. The sculptures, jewelry and vessels displayed here show us the creativity and skills of ancient glassworkers. The stunning glassworks during the roman period leaves one awestruck by its complex design and decorative work.
The glassblowing technique was invented along the Palestinian coast somewhere around 50 BC and got encouragement from Roman emperors. From there it spread to Egypt, Italy and present day Switzerland, France and Belgium. The Islamic world took the glassworks to the next level. They discovered the technique of staining. Most of their works involved gilding and enameling, cutting and engraving, mold blowing and mosaic glass.
The early European glass objects exhibited in this gallery include stained glass windows and various engraved vessels. It also focuses on glass making in Venice. Carved objects from China, blown vessels from Japan, beaded containers from Indonesia and precious glassware from India represent the glassworks in Asia. Coming to the recent history of glassworks, it showcases the earliest glass made in the United States besides international designer glass vessels, stained glass, furniture, lighting, and decorative objects and accessories.
The visit to the museum is not complete without visiting the Frederick Carder Gallery. Fredrick Carder was a gifted English glass artist. At the age of 14, he joined his family’s pottery business. Once he visited the studio of John Northwood - an innovator in his own regard, and became fascinated by his work. One year later he was working with Northwood as his chief assistant at Stevens & Williams – a well-known English glass making company. There he experimented a lot with glass colors and designs.
After moving to Corning, for almost 30 years he designed various glass products and invented hundreds of glass colors and techniques. He spent around 82 years of his life working with glass and produced hundreds of astonishing glass works. He retired at the age of 96!! No wonder the museum has a whole gallery dedicated to his works.
By this time we were amazed by the variety of the glass art. It was really amusing to know the history of glass. The intricate glass work found in various regions of the world belonging to different periods made us salute those ancient unknown craftsmen for their skill. The world of glass is not limited to just Art but beyond that it spans the science and technology domain too.
Glass has helped tremendously to make this world a better place. If one wants to see how, then it is must to pay a visit to CMOG’s state-of-the-art, interactive Innovation Center. Here one can learn about the striking innovations involving glass. The Optics Gallery unfolds the interesting aspects of interaction between glass and light. As it is interactive, one can dabble in telescopes, take a look through a periscope and point a laser through a stream of water – a good way to make your kids learn about internal reflection!! But the centerpiece of this gallery is the 200 inch glass disk which was casted for Hale telescope.
The Vessels Gallery is all about glass containers. From everyday containers like bottles, jars, bakeware, bulbs, and television picture tubes to specialized containers like fiberglass insulation, missile nose cones and heat and chemical resistant containers; all are at display. We discovered some interesting facts here – Until the end of 19th century bottles were made by hand. The need of developing an accurate thermometer led to the invention of heat resistant glass. A housewife’s broken casserole was the beginning of Pyrex® Glass Bakeware. Need is indeed the mother of all inventions!!
The interesting live shows add another dimension to your experience. After going through this spectacular display of glass in art, science and technology; it is pretty much obvious for anyone to think how it is made possible? The live glass making shows try to give an answer to your questions. The Optical Fiber Demo explains how glass threads can carry huge amounts of digital information, how light can be used for communication. It is interesting to know that the first breaking achievement in optical fiber research took place in Corning!!!
In this heaven of glassmaking, one area is dedicated to glass breaking too!! Here the visitors are encouraged to break glass. The demo lets you know how bullet-proof glass is made, why a car window glass breaks differently than a house window glass. You can explore the space shuttle window glass and computer screen glass.
The Flameworking Demo and the Hot Glass Show are the spectator’s delight. The flameworkers demonstrate how objects are formed from glass rods and tubes. The rod is first melt in the flame. This softened glass is then can be shaped into variety of shapes like sculptures and vessels. The Hot Glass Show is the glassblowing demonstration. You can watch the expert glassmakers take hot gobs of molten glass at the end of a pipe and shape it in stunningly beautiful objects. It is wonderful to watch the glass going through various processes and turning out to be some spectacular object.
They have a lucky draw during these shows. While entering the show visitors are given a coupon. At the end of the show they declare the lucky coupon numbers. If you have the lucky coupon, you can take home some freshly crafted glass goodies!!! Even if you do not win any, do not get disappointed as the museum shop – the GlassMarket, gives you an opportunity to shop for glassworks ranging from accessories to jewelry and designer collections to housewares.
It is indeed a place worth visiting!!