Founded in 1951 by Corning Glass Works (now Corning Incorporated) as a gift to the nation for the company’s 100th anniversary, the Corning Museum of Glass is a not-for-profit museum dedicated to telling the story of a single material: glass. Thomas S. Buechner, who would later become director of the Brooklyn Museum, was the founding director of the glass museum, serving in the post from 1951 to 1960 and again from 1973 to 1980.
The Museum's Glass Collection showcases more than 35 centuries of glass artistry. The Museum's collection of contemporary artworks includes pieces by significant artists such as Klaus Moje, Karen LaMonte, Bruno Pedrosa, Dale Chihuly, Libenský / Brychtová and Josiah McElheny. The Glass Collection Galleries show the most comprehensive and celebrated glass collection in the world. The galleries explore Near Eastern, Asian, European, and American glass and glassmaking from antiquity through present day. They tell 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. The galleries contain objects representing every country and historical period in which glassmaking has been practiced. The galleries include: 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.
In addition to these galleries, there is the Jerome and Lucille Strauss Study Gallery, Frederick Carder Gallery and Ben W. Heineman Sr. Gallery of Contemporary Glass. The Study Gallery is filled with a wide range of objects from all periods. The gallery is named after Museum benefactors Jerome and Lucille Strauss, who, by gift and bequest, provided the Museum with an unparalleled collection of 2,400 drinking glasses dating from ancient to modern times. The Frederick Carder Gallery features an extensive collection of glass designed by Frederick Carder (1863–1963), a gifted English designer who managed Steuben Glass Works from its founding in 1903 until 1932. During this time, the production of Steuben changed from various types of colored glass to colorless glass.
The Museum’s gallery of contemporary glass focuses on vessels, objects, sculptures, and installations made by international artists over the last 25 years. The purpose of the gallery is to show the different ways in which glass is used as a medium for contemporary art. The gallery is named for the Ben W. Heineman Sr. family, who donated a major collection of contemporary glass to the Museum in 2005.