35 centuries of glass art at Corning Museum of Glass, NY

Sunday, November 16th, 2014. Filed under: Art Destination Guides United States

My fall foliage break was extra-colorful this year as our destination was the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York. The four-hour drive from Toronto offered rural vignettes of pumpkin stands, cornfields, crows and Victorian homes decked for Halloween. As night and rain fell, we checked into our hotel and curled up with a delicious pizza from Aniello’s.

Chinese theme art glass

Corning Museum of Glass is the world’s top museum for glass art, history and technology.

The next morning, we hurried to beat the tourist buses to the Corning Museum of Glass. This major not-for-profit museum was founded in 1951 by Corning Glass Works (now Corning Incorporated) as a gift to the nation on the company’s 100th anniversary. Why the connection of glass with the town of Corning? In 1868, the Brooklyn Flint Glass Company moved to Corning, changed its name and transformed the quiet farming community. The Chemung River and three railroads made it easy to ship raw materials in and finished product out. By 1905, Corning had become the ‘Crystal City’ with 2,500 skilled glassblowers, cutters and etchers toiling at Corning Glass Works and other local ‘cutting shops’.

The Corning glass museum symbol emulates the glowing ‘glory hole’ used by glassworkers to heat glass.


Glassblowing Show Corning

Live glassblowing demonstrations take place every day at the Hot Glass Show Courtyard Stage.

In the museum galleries, the story of glass covers 35 centuries, from Roman and Islamic Glass to Venetian, European and American. A special section is devoted to glass produced in the Crystal City, Corning, itself.

Tiffany Window 1905

Art Nouveau window by Louis Comfort Tiffany, 1905.


Tiffany window detail

Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) was a glass innovator, son of the famous New York jeweler.

I was especially captivated by the radiant color of  Louis Comfort Tiffany and the luminous luxe of Rene Lalique.

Lalique Glass Clocks

Glass clocks (1926) by the French master René Lalique. The Lalique show is on until January 4, 2015.

Lalique Radiator Caps

Deco-era glamor: from 1920 to 1931, Lalique manufactured automobile hood ornaments, some illuminated.

The most crowded gallery, however, was Contemporary. Today’s glass artists are doing astounding things with this most magical material.

Contemporary Glass Gallery

Contemporary Glass Gallery (1975-2000) at Corning Museum of Glass.

Harvey Littleton 1980s

Glowing pieces from the 1980s by American glass artist Harvey Littleton.

The Corning Museum of Glass is the perfect antidote to grey weather and grey moods. I made a hefty dent in my holiday shopping in the museum’s huge International GlassMarket.  A dazzling 14-foot Christmas tree and full-sized glass snowmen will be centerpieces of Glass Wonderland until January 5, 2015. A $64 million, 100,000-square-foot museum expansion designed by New York architect Thomas Phifer is scheduled to open in spring 2015.  The Corning glass museum is open every day of the year and admission is free for kids and teens.

Dress by Karen Lamonte

The Corning Museum of Glass is a place to learn and dream. Evening Dress with Shawl, 2004, by Karen Lamonte.

Corning is a pretty town set among low hills in the Finger Lakes region of New York state.

Dine and shop in Corning’s historic Gaffer District, visit nearby wineries, hike spectacular Watkins Gorge or follow the Tiffany & Treasures Trail.

Corning, New York, is 360 kilometres (224 miles) from Toronto.

Dominick Labino Window

Mysterious, magical glass. Large cast glass window by American artist Dominick Labino (1910-1987). Labino never revealed his techniques.

UPDATE March 2015: the new wing opens March 20, 2015.  See this NYTimes article.


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