In America's "Crystal City," it's hard to stop gazing at the 40,000 wonderful objects reflecting 3,500 years of glass-making history. The Corning Museum of Glass, home to the world's most comprehensive collection of modern and contemporary glass, underwent a
$65 million renovation and reopened in 2001.
Yvette Sterbenk, Communications Manager, says, "We've been collecting, exhibiting and documenting contemporary art, craft and design in glass since we opened in 1951. We don't manufacture glass here, but we do have live glassmaking demonstrations that are a huge draw, something for everybody to see and do."
Before you begin, I recommend that you invest in the $3.00 hand-held audio device that you place to your ear. It saves lots of reading, and the animated narration is detailed and educational.
The Heineman Collection was acquired over a 30-year period, valued at $9.5 million. It was donated by Ben and Natalie Heineman in 2006, and is one of the largest private collections of contemporary glass in the world. Ben Heineman was the former chairman and CEO of Northwest Industries in the United States. Also close by, check out the exceptional works by
Louis Comfort Tiffany and
In the West Bridge Gallery, we view the evolution of the paperweight from the mid-19th century. More than 1,000 paperweights and related items from around the globe illustrate a variety of significant changes in the weighty object. We marvel at the world's first 100-pound paperweight created by contemporary artist, Josh Simpson, entitled,
Megaplanet. It is the world's largest glass paperweight - a luminous orb of kaleidoscopic landscapes and underwater worlds encapsulated in glass.
Don't be fooled by the flowers in the Glass Flowers of Harvard exhibit. They look so real, you think you are able to smell their delicate aromas. These lifelike glass flowers, fruits, tree branches and grasses seem freshly picked from the garden. Between 1887-1936 in Dresden, Germany, Leopold Blaschka and his son Rudolph created these works of art to be used as study models in Harvard University's Botanical Museum. The original workbench and other items from ' turn-of-the-century studio are here, on loan from Harvard University.
In "Curiosities of Glassmaking," prosthetic eyes, trick-glass goblets, glass grenades and bullets, scientific instruments, and witches' balls are a few of the items in this exhibition of unusual, mysterious and ingenious glass products.
Live, narrated hot glass blowing shows are held each day beginning at 9:45 a.m., and run throughout the day. Visitors can also blow and shape molten glass under the watchful eyes of professional glass blowers. There's an opportunity to make one's own colourful paperweight from molten glass.
Leave time to check out the attractive gift shop filled with funky glass merchandise. The staff is friendly and will wrap purchases carefully to ensure that they arrive home in one piece.
George Bailey contributes to Sun Media's 43 paid-circulation newspapers across Canada as well as numerous magazines. George has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, Canada AM, the Discovery Channel, and Live with Regis and Cathy Lee. He has published five books on Niagara Falls.