Cathy Chester | An Empowered Spirit

Glass As Art: Our Private Tour Of The Corning Museum Of Glass

If you think glass sculpture is not art, think again. Works of glass are as much an art form as paintings, sculptures and photography. The glass sculptor Dale Chihuly is a prime example of this. He is to glass sculpture what Renoir was to painting and Rodin to sculpting. They all captivate the imagination through self-expression and personal vision and their works educate, enlighten and enhance our world.

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Chihuly glass sculpture hanging in the Contemporary Art Wing of the Corning Museum of Glass

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Chihuly’s “Fern Green Tower” on display at the Corning Museum of Glass

While vacationing in the Finger Lakes the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance arranged for us to have a private tour of the new 100,000 square foot Contemporary Art and Design Wing of the Corning Museum of Glass. It is the largest space to house and preserve contemporary glass art.

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Photo: Corning Museum of Glass

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Our tour guide, Kim, explained how these “trees” are made up of every day drinking glasses!

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Photo: Corning Museum of Glass

We were bowled over not only at the artistry and mastery of the glass exhibits but also at the architectural design featuring a sophisticated light-filtering system using diffused roof skylights. The architect intended for the visitor to feel as if they’re walking on clouds, and he skillfully succeeded.

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Photo: Corning Museum of Glass

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The permanent collection, recent acquisitions and large-scale works are all tantalizing to the eye. Every piece has a story to tell so the CMoG now offers Glass App, a phone app that features videos, biographies and photos to enhance the visitor’s experience.

I particularly loved the story behind this piece:

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“Continuous Mile” by Liza Lou: For over a year a team of over 50 beadworkers from South Africa composed, coiled and stacked cotton rope. Measuring a mile in length it’s sewn with more than 4.5 million glossy black glass beads. “It is a work about work, about process, about finding meaning in the everyday, and about managing many hands to create something that could not be made by one person alone.”
Photo: The Corning Museum of Glass

The gallery is accessible and simply fun to walk around. It includes temporary exhibits with large-scale installations such as Kiki Smith’s “Constellation.” Take a look at this video to see how “Constellation” (shown below) was installed.

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Kiki Smith’s “Constellation”: My photo doesn’t do it justice because in person it is a magnificent work of art

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Photo: Corning Museum of Glass

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After our tour with Kim was over we continued by following the easy, self-guided tour of more than 3,500 years of glass. There’s so much to see with a variety of areas to visit including showcases of glass through the years, the Glass Innovation Center with an interactive look at glass, or the Hot Glass Show that runs daily with its live-narrated hot glass demonstration.

Looking back I wish we took part in their “Make Your Own Glass” with one of their experienced glassworkers. It’s available for all ages with no experience necessary. I’ll have to schedule a session for our next visit!

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Photo Credit: Corning Museum of Glass

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Beautiful Tiffany Windows
Photo Credit: Corning Museum of Glass

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Glassblowing demonstration in “Light Filled” Studio
Photo Credit: Corning Museum of Glass

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“Make Your Own Glass” Photo Credit: Corning Museum of Glass

If you’re staying near the Town of Corning I suggest you plan time to stroll around their charming downtown. It was lovely to see so many interesting window displays that were creative and eye-catching. I also felt a sense of calm knowing that several places offered Reiki, yoga, art therapy and massage. There were also some interesting looking restaurants and a few cute coffee shops as well.

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A massage or a guitar? Hmm.

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Steuben Glass Works originated in Corning, NY and was acquired by Corning Glassworks in 1918 when it became the Steuben Division.

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I loved the focus of this Center for Disability Rights: Civil Rights, Integration, Independence

The Corning Museum of Glass is a place we’d like to visit again and again. You can spend several hours exploring it, including a break for lunch at their light-filled Cafe that offers several dining options including an outdoor Cafe Express. From Egyptian artifacts to modern items, demonstrations and workshops there’s so much to see, learn and do.

ACCESSIBILITY: The Corning Museum of Glass is committed to making its collections, buildings, programs, and services accessible to all audiences. Designated spaces are available in the parking lots for visitors with disabilities. The Museum is accessible to wheelchair users and other visitors who need to avoid stairs, as well as the museum shuttle bus.  All entrances are accessible by wheelchair and all public floors of the Museum can be reached by elevator.  Wheelchairs are available free of charge at the Admissions lobby on a first-come, first-served basis. Advance reservations are not available.  The Museum welcomes walkers, wheelchairs (manual and electric), and scooters.

I’d like to thank Kimberly Thompson, Public Relations Specialist for the Corning Museum of Glass for her friendly and informative tour of the Museum. And once again many thanks to The Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance for arranging our visit. 

NOTE: I received three free passes to the Museum. My opinions are, as always, my own. 

25 thoughts on “Glass As Art: Our Private Tour Of The Corning Museum Of Glass

  1. Susan Williams

    Chihuly was a genius. I hesitate to call a human a god, but he was absolutely inspired. It sounds like a lovely place to tour. I’m from WV, where we do a lot of glass work, and one of my favorite types to collect is called Blenko glass. I have my Mom’s Blenko bottles and pitchers. They are precious to me.

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      How wonderful that you have your mom’s glass, Susan. I’d love to see photos of them, and learn more about Blenko glass! And you’re right: Chihuly is a genius. Every time I see his work I am in awe.

  2. Helene Cohen Bludman

    I am a fan of Chihuly’s and an admirer of glass art in general. I could look at these photos all day, they are so magnificent. What life and light Chihuly captures in each piece. Now I want to visit the museum more than ever. Thanks for the mini tour, Cathy. You have whetted my appetite!

  3. Mindy trotta

    Spectacular, Cathy! I saw a Chihuly exhibit a few years ago in Boston and was mesmerized. It was a nasty, cold, and rainy day and inside was paradise!

    1. shifrachester@gmail.com Post author

      I always wanted to take a glass art class. I remember going to Simon Pearce studio in (I think) Vermont and taking a quick one and it was so much fun! I love all glass art and each piece has a beauty of its own. xo

  4. Maureen Baeck

    I am a huge glass art lover. I have been to this museum about 10 years ago but I see that it has expanded since then! I see a road trip in our future! That area is so nice too!

  5. Pingback: A collection of Dale Chihuly’s Venetian glass bursts onto the scene at Museum of Glass |

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