Museum Expands to Create a New Experience with Glass
Article contributed by the Corning Museum of Glass
Imagine standing in a bright, clean space. A space that is filled with natural light and beautiful works of art in glass. This is an “ephemeral space in which objects can live,” and it is all coming together with an expansion at the Corning Museum of Glass.
The Museum, located in Corning, N.Y., is expanding with a new wing that will be the largest space anywhere dedicated to the presentation of contemporary art in glass.
“This expansion is really enabling us to do what we do best — to tell the world about glass…” said Karol Wright, Executive Director, Corning Museum of Glass.
Opening to the public on March 20, 2015, the 100,000-square-foot Contemporary Art + Design Wing, designed by architect Thomas Phifer and Partners, will include a new 26,000-square-foot contemporary art gallery building. Adjacent to this new gallery is a renovated historic glass factory ventilator building that will contain one of the world’s largest facilities for glassblowing demonstrations and live glass design sessions, with 500 seats.
“It was a very interesting experience working with an architect who spent so little time in the beginning of the project talking about architecture,” said Robert Cassetti, Senior Director, Creative Services & Marketing. “He was focusing on the glass that would be on display and how best to see that glass.”
In order to get started with planning the expansion, architect Thomas Phifer took a hands on approach to discovering the characteristics and properties of glass.
“The first thing we did was take a glass object out into the sunshine and we looked at it and it just exploded with light,” said Thomas. “That was a kind of wonderful moment for us because we discovered that glass loves light.”
The Contemporary Art + Design Wing will provide a superlative visitor experience in a state-of-the-art, “energy smart” building. Natural lighting and sophisticated temperature and air quality controls will provide the ideal interior environment for preserving the Museum’s unparalleled collection of contemporary art and design in glass.
On display in the new contemporary gallery will be more than 70 works from the Museum’s permanent collection, including recent acquisitions and large-scale works that have never before been on view due to space restrictions in the Museum’s current contemporary glass gallery.
Thematically curated galleries will highlight objects that refer to nature, the body, and history and material. In addition, a contemporary design gallery will be devoted to international design from the past 25 years and will feature a range of functional glass vessels, furniture, lighting, and design art.
Also featured will be a gallery dedicated to special temporary projects including large-scale installations, as well as a unique display area called, The Porch. From The Porch, visitors can access the galleries at several points, or rest and connect with the outdoors through the 150 foot-long window that opens onto the Museum’s green and view of one of the original buildings near the complex.
The new wing links three generations of glass architecture spanning 60 years. The Museum’s ten-acre campus currently features a collection of buildings designed by Harrison & Abramowitz (1951), Gunnar Birkerts (1980), Smith-Miller + Hawkinson (2001), and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (2001).
The $64 million project is funded by the Museum’s major benefactor, Corning Incorporated.