35 centuries of glass art at Corning Museum of Glass, NY
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.
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’.
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.
I was especially captivated by the radiant color of Louis Comfort Tiffany and the luminous luxe of Rene Lalique.
The most crowded gallery, however, was Contemporary. Today’s glass artists are doing astounding things with this most magical material.
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.
Corning is a pretty town set among low hills in the Finger Lakes region of New York state.
Corning, New York, is 360 kilometres (224 miles) from Toronto.
UPDATE March 2015: the new wing opens March 20, 2015. See this NYTimes article.