Corning Museum of Glass

South of the Finger Lakes lies the Southern Tier, the hilly region of the Appalachians providing trees for lumber mills. A number of towns are nestled in the river valleys. Corning is one of these towns, and it contains the headquarters of Corning Incorporated, the glass and ceramics company. The town of Corning has also done a great job of promoting its museums: the Corning Museum of Glass and the Rockwell Museum of Western Art which focuses on the art of the American West.
Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York. Corning had shuttle buses going between its two museums, but we only had time for the Museum of Glass. In the distance are the rolling hills of the Allegheny Plateau.
Macchia Seaform Group, by Dale Chihuly. Trained in the glass-making schools of Venice, Chihuly captures a sense of creation by these analogues of sea life. Glass is a supercooled liquid, and so glass can convey that tension between the transient and the permanent.
Glass fruit in a bowl, in the Sculpture Gallery of the Corning Museum of Glass.
Evening Dress with Shawl, by Karen LaMonte. A young artist, LaMonte’s subject is the dress. These monumental sculptures are difficult to create, and so she works in the Czech Republic which has the facilities to produce these complex castings.
From the caption:
Ancient glass formulas… Archaelogists have found clay tablets inscribed with formulas for making glass. Several survived in the remains of the library of King Assurbanipal. He lived in Nineveh, northern Iraq, from 688 to 627 B.C. Other such tablets have been found in Babylon, Iraq, and Boghazkeui, Turkey. These texts reveal valuable information on glassmaking in Mesopotamia more than 2600 years ago. Some describe ways of making glass from an even earlier time.
From the caption:
Gilded and enamaled glass. The gilded and enamaled glasses of the 12th to 15th centuries represent the greatest achievements of glassmakers in the Islamic world. After the cooled vessels had been painted and enameled, they were reheated to fuse the enamel and attach the gilding to the surface. Some of the objects in this case survived in remarkably good condition because they were never discarded. The lamp was used for centuries in a mosque; other objects were preserved for following generations.
A glass boat, displayed with the table at the 1900 world’s fair in Paris by the Baccarat company. In the late 1800s factories competed to produce elaborate glass furniture at world’s fairs.
Some modern glass art.
Glassmaking demonstration.
Constantly turning and heating and shaping, the end result will be a beautiful blue vase.
Tiffany stained glass display. This stained glass display reminded me of the stained glass on the Bowery Mission in Manhattan, a homeless shelter that has a stained glass window above the entrance. Our tour bus guide mentioned that the stained glass faced the street to give hope and comfort to the needy and hungry.
Tiffany stained glass windows commissioned to depict the Hudson River for a Gothic Revival mansion built in Irvington-on-Hudson, New York.
American Light Bulb Tester. In the 1920s customers who wished to purchase light bulbs would test them in a bulb tester in the hardware store. The logo, which shows two knaves facing each other while they appear to be discussing or contemplating a light bulb, was designed by the American painter Maxfield Parrish. Maxfield Parrish is otherwise known for his highly sought illustrations for children’s books, posters, and calendars.
When investigating tourist sites in New Jersey, I noticed there were some monuments to Thomas Edison and his work on light bulbs in Menlo Park, New Jersey. His Menlo Park industrial research lab was the first institution set up with the specific purpose of constant technological innovation and improvement. An 1887 newspaper article states what Edison wanted in his lab: “eight thousand kinds of chemicals, every kind of screw made, every size of needle, every kind of cord or wire, hair of humans, horses, hogs, cows, rabbits, goats, minx, camels…silk in every texture, cocoons, various kinds of hoofs, shark’s teeth, deer horns, tortoise shell…cork, resin, varnish and oil, ostrich feathers, a peacock’s tail, jet, amber, rubber, all ores…”
For further reading on Edison, the history of electric lighting, and Gilded Age business, science, and society, I would recommend:
Empires of Light : Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse and the Race to Electrify the World, by Jill Jonnes
The building on the cover of this book is New York’s Woolworth Building, the tallest skycraper for 17 years until it lost its title to the Chrysler Building in 1930.
Just to connect some interesting dots. It was Mark Twain who coined the term “gilded age” to reflect the post-Civil War era of opulence. Mark Twain was also a good friend of Nikola Tesla, who had won the “war of the currents” over Thomas Edison by having alternating current instead of direct current be the basis of electric power distribution. Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court is about a time traveler from Twain’s day who introduces modern technology to Arthurian England. The book challenges the romanticism of the Middle Ages that was common in books such as those by Sir Walter Scott.
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