Established in honor of the Corning Glass Works’ 100-year anniversary as a company, the Corning Glass Museum allows visitors to see some of the most delicate art in the world and will even help them make their own.
The large, ultra-modern museum was originally opened in 1951 in a smaller location, but with the same purpose: to explore the history and future of glass. In its modern incarnation, the museum holds over 45,000 glass objects covering some 3,500 years of glasscraft. In addition to the impressive collection of art and artifacts, the museum also prides itself on glass-making displays and classes where visitors can come and learn how to make pieces of their very own.
Among the most precious items in the Corning collection is a series of sea anemone, radiolarians, and other underwater creatures created out of glass by the Blaschka’s, a father and son team, in the mid-to-late 1800s. The models in the Corning museum were long forgotten before being rediscovered in a cabinet at Cornell in the 1960s. Today, the 570 Cornell models are overseen and conserved by the Corning museum.
The museum is also home to the Rakow Research Library, the world’s foremost collection of literature on the subject of glass making and shaping. Instead of simply covering the past of this important material, the Rakow Commission also looks at the future of glass, be it in optics, manufacturing, or even windows. For a collection of imminently breakable artifacts, the Corning Glass Museum is surprisingly hands on.