Corning Museum of Glass
In 1951, the original Corning Museum of Glass opened its doors. Wallace K. Harrison designed an L-shaped, International Style glass building that included the not-for-profit Corning Museum of Glass, the for-profit Corning Glass Center and the Steuben Glass factory. The design represented the architectural philosophy of the day, creating a light-filed space for displaying objects with similar properties.
Gunnar Birkerts explored a biomorphic, or more organic, modernist style in his 1976 design for a new addition to the Museum, which created much-needed exhibition space to accommodate more visitors. He envisioned the new building, which housed all of the glass collections, as a flowing series of galleries that held the Museum’s research library at its core. The structure curved around the original Harrison building, linking to it with light-filled, windowed ramps. The new addition opened to the public on May 28, 1980, exactly 29 years after the Museum’s first opening.
The Smith-Miller + Hawkinson expansion of 2001 included two prominent additions, one to the east and one to the west of the existing building. The western addition encompassed the Auditorium, Coffee Bar, and glass bridge and passageway (known as the West Bridge) that linked the former Steuben Glass factory to the Birkerts’ building. Also included in the western addition was the Hot Glass Show demonstration stage, where visitors were first able to see live, narrated glass-making demonstrations. The eastern addition included a new Admissions Lobby, Intro Theatre (now the Hot Glass Show Innovations Stage), Café, and the Innovations Center with interpretive exhibitry created by the well-known museum design firm of Ralph Appelbaum Associates. As part of the Museum’s overall transformation, the glass collection galleries, housed in the Birkerts’ building, were also entirely renovated.
With a growing collection of large-scale contemporary works of art and design in glass, and increasing domestic and international visitation, the Museum announced a $64 million expansion project in 2012. Designed by architect Thomas Phifer and Partners, the 100,000-square-foot Contemporary Art + Design Wing features filtered natural daylight using a sophisticated light-filtering system in new galleries for the collection of contemporary works in glass.
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