This will be the first in a series of posts on local travel locations. Often, because I have lived here so long, I have overlooked the obvious. Many of these sites I visited regularly when I was a kid and they have all stood the test of time for a reason. My hope is to share these fascinating places in a new light. I am kicking the series off with a visit to the Corning Museum Of Glass!
Located on interstate 86 in upstate New York, Corning is most noted for its glass production. Most notably in the consumer market, Corelle Dinnerware, Pyrex Cookware, and Gorilla Glass. Many glass artisans are attracted to the Corning area as well. Corning’s Market street, a rich and restored shopping district, also known as the Gaffer District is teeming with uniquely original glass and traditional art galleries, restaurants, cafes, retail shops and more. There really is something on Market street for everyone. In support of its rich glass history, Corning Incorporated supports its own Corning Museum Of Glass aka C.M.O.G.
Glass History Museum
The museum not only spotlights artists in its galleries. It has a huge collection of glass items as it has existed through history in culture, technology, and art. Glass is one of those things that you do not really get the scope of until you see it presented this way. We would be pretty much nowhere without it.
And while the history of glass was captivating and extremely interesting to see and learn about, the artistry was what I was there to see. CMOG is set up with a large museum area for glass history (it’s been around a while), a medium museum for technology and demonstrations, and up until recently only a medium-sized gallery for artists. In March of 2015, Corning opened an enormous 100,000-square-foot Contemporary Art + Design Wing including a new 26,000-square-foot contemporary art gallery building, the largest space anywhere dedicated to the presentation of contemporary art in glass. And let me tell you that not only the exhibits are gorgeous but the building itself, designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners is a masterpiece itself! We’ll get to the new wing, but let’s take a peek at some of the art from the old gallery first.
There are some larger pieces here, but most are small to medium-sized. The gallery includes a great variety of subjects and all genres are well represented. Here were some of my favorite pieces.
While some of the subjects here are easy to see that they are glass…others, not so much. And this is why I think that glass is such an amazing medium from which to work.
And that is just a very small slice of what you will find in the gallery. Now it’s time to take a quick look at the tech museum before finishing off with the new contemporary wing. I highly suggest that you start with the historical glass, then the small gallery, moving on to the innovation center, and finishing with the new contemporary wing. This will build a nice experience for you in the long run. The museum has an amazing gift shop and cafe as well. Plan to get there early and spend the whole day. If you do lunch at the cafe in the middle of your experience you can then head over to Market street for a dinner later. I highly suggest the amazing Atlas Pizza for the best pizza in the STATE (maybe the country). Or, if you prefer a more upscale fare, check out my friends Michael and Emmett’s place The Cellar. You might even see a piece of my work hanging there. 🙂
Corning has achieved many “firsts’ over the years, and the innovation center is where you will find record of them. Everything from Space Shuttle glass, cookware, mirrors and lenses to laminates and beyond. All set up with cool interactive displays! Nikola Tesla would be proud!
In the tech museum you can not only learn about Corning’s amazing accomplishments but you can also watch live demonstrations happening throughout the day as well. And while all of this is fascinating, the new Contemporary wing is calling. So off I head.
Contemporary Art and Design Wing
CMOG’s new contemporary wing houses the most amazing works of glass art on the planet. Thematically curated galleries here highlight exhibits that refer to nature, the body, material, and history. Here are a few of the exhibits I found to be amazing.
Artists represented by large-scale works include Nancy Bowen, Nicole Chesney, Tony Cragg, Alessandro Diaz de Santillana, Ann Gardner, Katherine Gray, Jun Kaneko, Marian Karel, Marta Klonowska, Karen LaMonte, Silvia Levenson, Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová, Beth Lipman, Liza Lou, Flora Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick, Ivan Mareš, Josiah McElheny, Klaus Moje, Debora Moore, Stacey Neff, Susan Plum, Anne and Patrick Poirier, Michael Rogers, Michael Scheiner, Lino Tagliapietra, Ann Wolff, Cerith Wyn Evans, and my personal favorite Javier Pérez.
His piece called Carroña (Carrion) features a blood-red hand blown glass Venetian chandelier, partially shattered on the floor with a murder of crows scavenging the shards. A metaphor for the gradual disappearance of the traditional glass industry in Murano, Italy. Because of the way this exhibit is displayed it was very hard to get a wide shot of it. For that I will share just this photo in hopes it will drive you to want to see it for yourself. To me, this one piece was worth the trip.
Well there you have it. Aside from shooting an event at the Museum, I had not visited as there casually since grade school. As usual, I will spend the next several weeks kicking myself as to why I waited so long. Preservation and support of our museums is so needed as they are vital to our communities history, AND future. The internet is fine for what it is, but seeing these pieces in person (cinematic 3D if you will) is the only way to go! If you are in the upstate New York area, especially the Finger lakes, make time for Corning. You will be glad you did! Oh, and if you do go, make sure you get the APP for your phone as it brings a whole new experience to the gallery.
If you would like to check out all my photos from the trip, follow this link: Full Gallery
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