Democrat and Chronicle
May 15, 2011
Corning Museum of Glass: 60 Years and Going Strong
The Corning Museum of Glass is a senior citizen, but you’d never know it, as it has really kept up with the times; and yes there have been a few face lifts over the years. The museum, a state-of-the-art facility and one of New YorkState’s most popular attractions, is celebrating 60 years this May.
A brief history
Originally conceived as an educational institution in 1950 by the Corning Glassworks, now Corning Incorporated, the museum opened its doors in May 1951 with about 2,000 glass objects in its collection, along with a research library.
Over the years the glass collection and library continued to expand. Today the museum has over 45,000 objects representing 3,500 years of glass craftsmanship. It is the largest collection of glass in the world! Over 360,000 people visit the museum annually.
The museum building itself has also seen changes and expansion over the past six decades. A devastating flood in 1972 resulted in five feet of water in the museum. The items in the collection had to be painstakingly cleaned and restored; conservationists from all over the country helped with the effort.
By 1978, the museum had outgrown its space and an addition was added. This time, to be on the safe side, the part of the museum housing the collections was built above flood level. Still another renovation took place between 1996 and 2001, turning the museum into the state-of-the-art facility it is today.
Visit the museum
The last time my family visited the museum of glass, my kids were fascinated by all the hands-on activities. The highlight of our visit was the Hot Glass Show, which features live demonstrations of glassblowing.
We were fortunate enough to be able to participate in the museum’s Walk-in Workshops, where visitor’s can try their hand at glassmaking. You must make reservations early in the day to secure a spot. Some of the workshops are for all ages, while some are geared towards teens and adults. You can create objects such as decorative picture frames, window hangings, and glass flowers. If you don’t have the time or ambition to create you own, don’t fret, as the museum’s 18,000 square foot Glassmarket, one of the largest museum shops in the country, has plenty of glass items for purchase.
60th Anniversary events
There are several upcoming events pertaining to Corning Museum of Glass 60th anniversary. Take the “60 Favorites” tour. This self-guided tour highlights sixty favorite items from the museum’s collection that help you to learn about the museum’s history and glassmaking.
On May 19th, from 9am to 8pm you can take part in the museum’s official birthday celebration. The day will kick off with a parade of 1951 Chevrolets to the museum’s front door. Cupcakes will be served and special activities will take place all day long. Admission is free. Everyone who has visited the museum during the past 60 years is urged to share their special memories of the museum through photos, videos, or written description.
Another event taking place in Corning this May is Glassfest, from May 26th to May 29th. This event, which is in its 2nd year, is a four-day celebration of glass and fine arts sponsored by Corning’s Gaffer District. Planned activities include live music, glassmaking demonstrations, a glass “flame off” ( glass artists will compete to see who creates the best glass pieces), a 8K race on Saturday morning, fine art vendors on Saturday and Sunday, the Light up the Night, neon and glass display Friday and Saturday night, and historic walking tours all weekend. For more information, see www.glassfest.org
If you go
Corning Museum of Glass, One Museum Way, Corning, 800-732-6845, 607-937-5371 www.cmog.org
Take the I-390 south until you reach the I-86. Take I-86 east to Corning; follow the signs to the Corning Museum of Glass