October 12 -15
With a less than four-hour drive to Ithaca, we took a detour on the way to visit the Corning Museum of Glass, founded in 1951 by Corning Glass Works (now Corning Incorporated) as a gift to the nation for the company’s 100th anniversary. Dedicated to the art, history, and science of glass, it currently has a collection of more than 50,000 glass objects, some over 3,500 years old.
I want to start off by saying that as with most of the museums we’ve visited, and will likely visit in the future, there is just too much to see in one visit and after 2-3 hours you are fried, almost brain dead and ready to call it a day. And that would be the case here, estimating that we only touched on a fraction of the 50,000 glass objects, let alone the technological items made from glass.
We started on the second floor just past the admissions lobby with the Contemporary Art & Design Gallery, which features more than 70 works from the Museum’s permanent collection, including recent acquisitions and large-scale works that have never before been on view. Works in this gallery were created in the past 25 years and are arranged thematically. As one wanders among the groupings they are staggered by the imagination and technical competency required to produce these unique works of art.
From there we moved onto the Glass Innovation Center, where we walked through the Optics Gallery, Vessels Gallery, and Windows Gallery, along with a nostalgic stop at the Corelle display, those unique dishes that many American homes (mine included) used starting in the 1970’s. Made of Vitrelle, it is a tempered glass product consisting of two types of glass laminated into three layers.
Other interesting displays include glass chemistry, the invention, and revolutionary uses of optical fiber, viewing oneself in the reflection of a flight simulator mirror and checking out the 200-inch Disk for the Hale Reflecting Telescope at Palomar which tells the story of the creation of the huge mirror (known by the American public at the time as “The Giant Eye”) that made Hale’s vision possible.
Next, I crossed the West Bridge to enter 35 Centuries of Glass, which contains the most comprehensive and celebrated glass collection in the world. It explores Near Eastern, Asian, European, and American glass and glassmaking from antiquity through present day, telling the story of glass creation, from a full-scale model of an Egyptian furnace to the grand factories of Europe, to the small-scale furnaces that fueled the Studio Glass movement that began in America in 1962.
It’s galleries contain objects representing every country and historical period in which glassmaking has been practiced, including glass in Nature, Origins of Glassmaking, Glass of the Romans, Glass in the Islamic World, Early Northern European Glass, The Rise of Venetian Glassmaking, Glass in 17th-19th Century Europe, 19th Century European Glass, Asian Glass, Glass in America, Corning: From Farm Town to “Crystal City,” Paperweights of the World and Modern Glass.
Phew, it was mindboggling. Joanna and I regrouped as I was finishing up after nearly an hour and honestly, if glass is your thing, you could spend hours just in this gallery alone. We decided it was time to take a break and grab a snack in the food court which featured many interesting looking entrees and side dishes. We opted for coffee and sandwich to split thinking we’d save our large meal for dinner later.
To finish up, we cruised the large museum store and then I went back up to the second floor to the Amphitheater Hot Shop to check out a glass blowing demonstration. I’ve seen a number of glassmaking presentations in the past but this one was supersized due to the addition of cameras that gave an up-close look at the physical process and a glimpse inside the kiln as the glass piece was inserted there a number of times.
Joanna found me towards the end of the demonstration and together we left the museum to resume our drive to Ithaca. We arrived later in the afternoon and found our home for the next four nights, the West Hills Hideaway Studio, a cozy addition to a large Greek Revival home on the edge of town whose main section was built in the late 1800’s. Our hostess, Cathy, made our stay enjoyable, with a welcome loaf of pumpkin bread and other goodies.
Ready for a drink and some food, our original thought was to hit the Ithaca Beer Company not far from our Airbnb, but they were closed that day, so we opted instead to seek out the Liquid State Brewing Company in downtown. Parked outside is the Silo Food Truck which we figured would supply our dinner for the night. We entered the open tap room and noted the tap board, featuring a broad assortment of styles, including pilsners, sours, stouts, and of course, the obligatory selection of IPA’s.
I started with a Maibock, and Joanna went for the Black is Beautiful Nitro Stout and as, to our disappointment, the food truck was closed that day, we ordered a small cheese pizza that for something produced behind the bar was quite tasty. It having been a long day given the time spent at the glass museum, we opted for just one more beer, the Cloud-Swing Belgian Style Tripel, which was good as it gets. We settled our reasonable tab of $26.34 including a tip starting a trend of finding most of the beer we would encounter to be less expensive than we are used to at home.
On the way back to the house we narrowly missed hitting a deer, something we would keep in mind as we would travel this stretch of road many times. It had been a good long day of travel and with more to come on the horizon, we settled into a peaceful night’s sleep ready to do some exploring starting the next morning.
Corning Museum of Glass: https://home.cmog.org/
Liquid State Brewing Company: https://www.liquidstatebeer.com/