Corning Museum of Glass

I actually meant to post this a while ago after attending a glass conference at CMoG in mid October and talking about that in class today reminded me.  I went in knowing the renovations were done by RAA in 2001, and was pretty curious to see what kind of innovations would await.  One of the sections of the exhibition space is actually called the ” glass innovation center” if I recall correctly.  Anyway, the architecture and exhibition designs for the educational areas and the glass studio were striking, as expected, especially given the level of audience participation in the glass making shows (which are really cool!)

I had to spend pretty much all of my time in lectures and in the glass galleries though, and was really intrigued by the layout of the exposed study collection.  The vitrine case-exhibition style is essentially the same as the regular gallery, just more packed (and sometimes equally packed!) with objects.  Sure, there are only accession numbers for this segment of the museum (with unfortunately no visible console or book for looking them up), but other than that there was sometimes very little difference between the study collection and the displayed collection.  The shelves for the display collection itself often went up over my head in the 20th century modern section (and I’m not really short, so this was a weird problem to be having). I had to resort to taking wobbly pictures, arms fully outstretched over my head and just hope it would get the right angle since I couldn’t see it.  This is kind of a disaster when your formal analysis topic is on the top shelf, but I imagine it’s not the best for the casual visitor either.

All that aside, Corning has an impressive, large collection, and even with the presence of the study collection, most of their objects are still stored in an offsite facility near the airport.  I’m not sure if the study collection rotates different objects, but given the breadth of the collection (and it grows every year!), it makes me wonder: how feasible is it for large and growing institutions like the Corning Museum to incorporate these aspects of back of house fully into the front of house?

michelle jackson

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