Archeological evidence shows that glass dates to 3500 BC. The Phoenicians are credited with inventing glassblowing somewhere around 50 BC. Despite technological advances, the process still depends largely on ancient tools and time-tested techniques handed down from master to apprentice. Here are five US museums displaying some of the best in glass art.
CORNING MUSEUM OF GLASS, Corning, N.Y. The collection showcases more than 3,000 years of glass, while the Contemporary Glass Gallery features works from 1975 on. One of the oldest pieces is a turquoise glass inlay with the image of the pharaoh Akhenaten, who ruled during Egypt’s Eighteenth Dynasty. A self-guided tour includes live demonstrations of hot glassblowing. cmog.org.
CHRYSLER MUSEUM OF ART, Norfolk, Va. More than 10,000 glass objects range from ancient to contemporary, including English, European, art nouveau, and art Deco styles. Highlights include a large selection of Tiffany glass, French glass, and an English cameo glass collection. Among works by 21st-century artists, Karen LaMonte’s translucent cast-glass dress, “Reclining Drapery Impression,” is ethereal and striking. chrysler.org.
THE CHARLES HOSMER MORSE MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART, Winter Park, Fla. The Morse Museum houses one of the largest collections of glass by Louis Comfort Tiffany in the world, including his glittering, almost gaudy chapel interior from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and the Daffodil Terrace, among other pieces of art and architecture, from his Long Island country estate, Laurelton Hall. morsemuseum.org.
MUSEUM OF GLASS, Tacoma, Wash. Glass artist Dale Chihuly helped launch this museum in his home state. The focus here is on glass art created during the 20th and 21st centuries, including Chihuly’s Bridge of Glass, a 500-foot-long pedestrian overpass that links the museum to downtown Tacoma. The whimsical Kids Design Glass collection consists of objects created by glass artists interpreting children’s drawings. www.museumofglass.org.
CHIHULY GARDEN AND GLASS, Seattle, Wash. In the shadow of the Space Needle, this site showcases the extraordinary range of Chihuly’s work, from glass-ball-filled boats inside to the large-scale outdoor garden pieces that mirror the shapes or colors of surrounding plants. The colorful ceiling in the Glass House is one of the artist’s largest suspended sculptures. www.chihulygardenandglass.com.