As we entered The Corning Museum of Glass, we read: “Glass is different things to different people. At The Corning Museum of Glass, you will discover the many things glass can be.” During our visit, we discovered art, history and science through glass. We even found beauty through glass.
Corning Museum of Glass
The museum has an extensive collection of glass that spans 3,500 years. Mandy Kritzeck, Content & Media Specialist, gave us a personal tour and made sure that we saw the highlights. We started the tour by checking out the contemporary section. We were drawn to the whimsical art made by Ginny Ruffner and the fiberglass bowls made by Toots Zynsky.
The most photographed piece in the contemporary section, if not the entire museum, is the chess set made by Gianni Toso, a Venetian artist, in 1981. The chess set is quite unique with Jewish and Catholic religious figures standing in for the normal kings and knights. The crosses and Torahs add to the fascinating board game’s religious theme.
The museum’s historical collections provide glimpses into past civilizations including Egypt, Rome, and Islam. The pieced-together black hemispherical bowl with an inlaid nihilistic scene from Rome, circa 4th – 5th century A.D., is a true treasure in terms of both art and history.
There are lots of interesting collections from bowls to vases to furniture. We were drawn to the snuff bottle collection with its Asian flair.
Portraits are always interesting, especially when they span the centuries.
One of the museum’s highlights is the Louis Comfort Tiffany window. Designed for an estate in Irvington-on-Hudson, the window reminded us of the Dream Garden at the Curtis Building in Philadelphia.
During our walk through the Innovation Center, we learned how glass is used from the mundane (casseroles) to the electronic (cell phones) to the exotic (spaceships). It was interesting to hear how Corning invents products before their uses are fully realized, which is what happened with the glass that is now used for computer screens.
The interactive exhibits are perfect for kids of all ages, including big kids like us.
As we checked out the many scientific applications for glass, it was good to get a reminder of where much of the Corning legend began. It’s not every day that you can see a giant tower of casseroles.
After viewing the various and vast collections, it was fun to take a break to watch glass actually get made. The hot glass show featured two gaffers, i.e. master glassmakers, making a decorative vase. These master glassmakers made the vase in a 2300 degree furnace. Interestingly, the video camera inside the furnace was developed for use in the space industry.
Once we saw glass get made, it was time for the 2foodtrippers to try our hands at making glass ourselves. Kurt Carlson guided us through the process of selecting colors and creating glass flowers from scratch. Since the flowers needed to cool overnight, the museum mailed the flowers to us in Philadelphia.
The Corning Museum of Glass is located at 1 Museum Way, Corning, NY, 14830, United States.
Lunch in Corning
It wouldn’t be a food trip without food. Conveniently, Corning’s historic district is a short walk from the museum.
Although there were a few cute bakeries, we opted to eat lunch at Holmes Plate. The burger and chili hit the spot. We were disappointed that the Ommegang Game of Thrones keg was kicked, but we happily settled for a glass of Great Lakes Tripel Dog Dare to share instead.
Holmes Plate was located at 54 W Market St, Corning, NY 14830, United States. It is now permanently closed.
As we strolled along Market Street, we enjoyed a scoop of maple walnut ice cream from Dippity Do Dahs. Made on site with local ingredients, the ice cream was a tasty treat.
Dippity Do Dahs is located at 58 E Market St, Corning, NY 14830, United States.
After lunch, we headed back to the museum to finish our tour. We ended our visit with a walk through the colorful gift shop with glass items from local and global artists and companies.
Three hours at the museum was not enough considering the quantity and quality of the exhibits, and we will surely return when we next visit the Finger Lakes.
If we make glass flowers again, hopefully they’ll look better then the two flowers we created on this first visit. Then again, it surely takes years of practice to be a real glass artisan like those featured at the Corning Museum of Glass.
The Corning Museum of Glass is open seven days a week. Admission is free for kids and teens, and it’s reasonably priced for adults. Check out the museum’s website for full details and discounts.
About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.