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Indepth Arts News:

"Grand Reopening Season: American and Crystal City Galleries"
2000-04-07 until 0000-00-00
Corning Museum of Glass
Corning, NY, USA United States of America

The Corning Museum of Glass will open two new exhibit areas, the American and Crystal City Galleries, on April 7, 2000. Glassmaking was America’s first industry. The American Gallery celebrates the development of glassmaking in the United States and traces its growth. Where once American glass mimicked English and German design, it now has its own vigorous tradition.

The glass pioneers -- Wistar, Stiegel, and Amelung -- started manufacturing operations on the East Coast in the 18th century. As Americans began to move westward after the Revolutionary War, glassmakers followed. New factories specialized in window glass, bottles, and, later, pressed tableware. The exhibit includes an area on mass production demonstrating pressed glass tableware, including mugs, pitchers, sugar bowls, creamers, salt dishes, cup plates, and celery vases. Also on display are glass drawer knobs, whiskey flasks molded with images of historical figures, glass toys, and the candlesticks and oil lamps used to illuminate the dimly lit 19th-century homes.

The New England Glass Company, in continual operation for 70 years, produced a full range of domestic and utilitarian wares. Samples of their commercial products and tableware are on display. As they filled the demand for inexpensive pressed tableware, glasshouses also continued to cut and engrave glass. They supplied expensive glass products similar to those sold in the European market.

Benjamin Bakewell’s glasshouse, in operation for almost 75 years, was noted for its high quality, English-style cut lead glass favored by the wealthy. The display area on the presidential services of glass includes this firm’s creations and that of the company, C. Dorflinger & Sons.

Glass containers continued to be an important part of the American glass industry throughout the 19th century. In 1880, the production of mold blown hand finished, whiskey flasks, patent medicine bottles, and preserving jars made up 25 percent of glass manufacturing. The American Gallery includes these products and a sampling of American paperweights.

The Crystal City Gallery tells the story of glassmaking in Corning, New York, a thriving glassmaking center since 1868. In 1902, the New York Sunday Tribune characterized Corning as the Cut Glass City of New York State. At that time, about 1,000 men, women, and boys were blowing and finishing glass in the city’s one large factory. Nearly another 1,000 worked in two large and half a dozen small glass cutting and engraving businesses scattered around town. Nowhere else in America were so many people employed in the glass cutting business.

Because Corning was a center for the production of cut glass for nearly a century, the Museum’s renovated galleries now include this permanent exhibit focusing on this industry and its impact. The Museum has the pre-eminent collection of cut and engraved glass made in Corning. Some of these rare objects were donated by the sons and daughters of their makers. Several hundred examples of this uniquely American style of glass are included in this exhibit.

Visitors to the Crystal City Gallery will learn that:

Most of the early glass craftsmen came to Corning from Europe. Both Hoare and Hawkes, proprietors of the city’s largest cutting shops, were Irish. France, Germany, and Bohemia also provided workers, but after 1900, many of the workers were American-born and trained in Corning’s factories.

Corning’s glass engravers used an assortment of copper wheels, ranging in diameter from about an inch and a half to the size of a pinhead, to produce incredibly detailed designs.

Corning-made cut glass was very popular with America’s presidents. The Hoare firm supplied a set of glassware to President Grant in 1873, and the Hawkes shop provided glass for Presidents Cleveland, Harrison, McKinley, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower.

One of Corning’s most remarkable glassmakers was Frederick Carder (1863-1963), an English-born designer who was director of Steuben Glass Works (1903-1933), and art director at Corning Glass Works (1933-1944). He created glass colors and shapes, pioneered decorative processes, and experimented with early techniques, such as the making of millefiori glass.

The Museum has been undergoing a $65 million renovation since 1996, which concludes this year. The Museum will also open these new areas in 2000:

May 27 35 Centuries of Glassmaking
July 21 New Rakow Library
October 7 Modern Glass Gallery

The Corning Museum of Glass, opened in 1951, is an independent, non-profit, educational institution, dedicated to the art, history, research, and exhibition of glass and glassmaking. The Museum houses the world’s premier glass collection - more than 35,000 objects representing 3,500 years of glass craftsmanship and design.

The Museum includes the Glass Innovation Center, presenting stories of life-changing glass technologies; the Sculpture Gallery, focused on contemporary glass sculpture; the Art and History Galleries, which contain the world’s most comprehensive collection of glass; The Hot Glass Show with daily glassblowing demonstrations; Flameworking Live! with daily glassmaking demonstrations; and the Rakow Library, the world’s most comprehensive library on the history and art of glass. The Museum campus also includes The Studio, an educational and artistic glassmaking facility; two eateries; an orientation theatre; an auditorium; and seven Museum Shops, which include art glass, glass jewelry, books on glass, and consumer glass products.

The Corning Museum of Glass, located at One Corning Glass Center, Corning, NY 14830, is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. From July through Labor Day, it is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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