Corning Museum of Glass

  • Arts & Culture
  • 1951

A classic example of a corporation doing philanthropy that only it could carry out, the Corning Museum of Glass was very unlike most corporate museums. It was opened in 1951 by Corning Glass Works (later known as Corning Incorporated), and located in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. While many corporate museums are centered on the company, the Corning Museum focuses on a product—glass—in all of its many historic, artistic, and technological incarnations.

And calling this facility a museum is a bit like calling Yankee Stadium a field. Its mission is to preserve and expand the world’s knowledge about glass. It opened with an impressive display of 2,000 glass products and descriptions, housed in an international-style glass building designed by Wallace Harrison. But it is also a research library, an auditorium, a science hall with information about glass technology, and an artisan workshop with opportunities to watch actual glassmaking.

After several expansions and renovations, the museum today features more than 50,000 objects created over 35 centuries. These include ancient glass pieces from 1500 B.C., scientific and industrial uses of glass, contemporary art glass from around the world, hot glass demonstrations, and today’s most comprehensive store selling objects and books related to glass. After its latest $64 million expansion, in 2015, the spectacular museum is able to handle half a million visitors every year.

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