The realisation that my imagination of the extent a glass could be shaped was far too limited came only after a visit to the Corning Museum of Glass.
Nestled in the heart of Finger Lakes Wine Country, this world’s largest glass museum hosts 35 centuries of glass artistry and an international Glass market. It is about four and a half hour drive from New York City.
Instead of taking the shortest route back to New York from Niagara, we took the country road through the Finger Lake area. The drive through the Finger Lakes was invigorating in itself with cool breeze caressing our faces on a wide black ribbon of a road flanked by thick foliage of trees that had yet to change to fall colours and no traffic!! Neatly anchored were the big and small boats that bobbed happily in the bright sun on the inky blue waters of the lake that we crossed.
With Halloween around the corner, many houses were decorated with cloth ghosts and painted and carved pumpkins. We passed the Tomion’s farm market and promptly stopped to check out fresh vegetables. Pumpkins of all sizes lay for anyone to pick and choose.
We started a little late from Niagara Falls after a ride in the ‘Maid of Mist’ and since we made many stop-overs on a longer scenic route, reached Corning by four in the evening. The shuttle bus service deposited us at the entrance of the museum from the parking lot.
My limited knowledge was jolted right at the visitors’ lounge itself where a floor to ceiling artwork of twisted snake-like green glass tubes shimmered under the focus lights and yet it did not prepare me for the colour, size, shape of the multifarious creativity that was going to leave me gaping at the skill and craft of the glass artists.
Divided into various sections from the age when glass originated, the museum houses Roman, Islāmic, Venetian, Asian, American, European and Modern pieces of glass art.
The attempt, to soak it all up and satiate my visual senses, was of no match to the amount of art displayed. Even if I had used up the entire capacity of camera’s memory card, there would still have remained hundreds of articles in the various sections. The museum occupied such large floor space that by end of the tour we were exhausted and welcomed the seated live demonstration of glass blowing by the artists.
The glass artist after a brief introduction of glass making and history deftly made some simple and curvy design from a small piece of glass tube. Enlightened and awed we finally moved to the shop within the museum.
The shop was another world in itself… from delicate glass flowers, miniature birds and animals, sturdier curios…the shelves and floor space was spilling over with colourful glass everywhere….so much so that I was afraid of my daughter’s excited hand gestures that might break one of the piece and reimbursing would have made a considerable dent in my tight budget!
There was even a vegetable patch…glass pumpkins and all…
Awed, inspired and with a renewed respect, I started for my onward journey to New York….to be in the world of humans who mostly hid a dark heart and failed to be as transparent as that humble small piece of glass. Leaving the museum behind, I was reminded of Cath Crowley’s words..
“If you treat glass right, it doesn’t crack. If you know the properties, you can make things; the colour of dusk and night and love. But you can’t control people like that and I really really wish you could. I want the world to be glass.” Cath Crowley, Graffti moon
Facts and information:
- Open everyday from 9 am to 5 pm and till 8 pm in summers. We got only one hour to visit which was too less to admire each and every section. The museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas.
- Entry is free for kids and teenagers.
- Discounted entry passes for students and military personnel are available against identity proof.
- Make your own glass workshop tickets are better booked in advance at cmog.org We missed making our own glass for lack of time and I regret it even now.
- Free shuttle bus service from museum’s parking lot to museum’s entrance is available.
- There are on site eateries too.