Discovering the fascinating world of glass in Corning

After visiting Watkins Glen in the Finger Lakes region, my boyfriend and I found ourselves with a certain dilemma. It was raining outside, and we did not really want to go back to explore another state park with that gloomy weather. But we did not want to spend the afternoon in our hotel room either. While digging through the local brochures for an indoor activity, we decided to go visit the Corning Glass Museum, located about twenty minutes from where we were.

A museum on glass… The idea did not really interest me that much. My boyfriend was a little more motivated. As he works in the restaurant business, the name of Corning had a greater resonance with him. Corning, an American company specializing in glass and ceramics, inventor of Pyrex and manufacturer of many of these glassware dishes that go in the oven… A museum on glass in a city known for its glass industry, it seemed rather logical.

Upon arrival, even before entering the museum, we were rather impressed. First, the museum was much bigger than we expected, but also, there were many people there, including some tourist buses. Surprisingly enough when you consider that the small town of Corning is rather far from the big centers.

But once inside the museum, we quickly understood the craze. Interesting, a museum on glass? This one, yes! It must be said that the Corning Glass Museum has the largest collection of glass artifacts in the world. The more historical part of the museum shows the evolution of the use of glass, from the Egyptian civilization to the present day. There are thousands of glass objects from around the world and from all eras.

Corning Museum of Glass
Glass objects that are a few hundreds of years old

Beyond this impressive collection, where the museum really interested us is in its more educational and entertaining part. A section of the museum is devoted at the science of glass and, through an interactive exhibition, demonstrates the properties, manufacturing processes and use of glass.

Most importantly, it is possible to attend educational workshops on glass and demonstrations of glass blowing. In front of us, in just thirty minutes, a glass blower made a beautiful yellow and red vase while a facilitator explained in detail each step of the process and the complexity of handling glass.

A glass blower in Corning
A glass blower in action

The museum also has a more artistic part, in which works of art created from glass are exhibited. I recommend visiting this section after seeing the demonstration of the glass blowing. Works of art become even more impressive and interesting when you understand how hard it is to make them.

There is also a large shop where you can find almost every imaginable glass product. Plates, glasses, vases, Christmas decorations, everything is there, in addition to several works by glass artists.

Corning Museum of Glass

Inaugurated in 1951 and created by the Corning Company, the museum also serves as a laboratory for experimenting on glass and offers several courses and training on the handling of glass. So even if your interest in glass is rather limited (like me), there is probably an aspect of the Corning Glass Museum that will interest you. My boyfriend and I came back delighted (my boyfriend even thought about coming back for a one-day glass-blowing class) and what was an activity done without having a better option has finally became one of our most beautiful discoveries during our stay in this region.

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