Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser like to say that they “grew up together” with glass. It was the 1970s. The Studio Glass movement was still young. Dan was starting his own business and Susan was in law school.
Art lovers and collectors, they first encountered glass at the Kurland/Summers Gallery, the first gallery devoted to glass in Los Angeles. Gallery director Ruth Summers presented the work of a group of artists, and Dan and Susan were smitten by the translucent and affordable new medium. They began to collect, and to learn as much as they could about contemporary studio glass.
In 1982, they approached the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (LACMA) with an offer to help the museum build a collection of contemporary glass. There, they met Tina Oldknow, a “young, talented curator” who was working in the European sculpture and decorative arts department as a specialist in Greek and Roman art and ancient and historical European glass. No one at the museum knew anything about contemporary glass, but Tina was fascinated and eager to learn.
“What happened after that was magic,” says Dan. The couple and Tina started studying contemporary glass together, spending “half the Saturdays in a year at galleries” and meeting up whenever possible. Together, they began to put together a glass collection at LACMA, funded by Dan and Susan.
Dan and Susan also continued to build a personal collection of distinction, acquiring studio glass works of museum quality.
“Just as important as what you collect,” say Dan and Susan,” is what you do with it. As a collector, you have a responsibility to get work to the public, whether through gifts, speaking, loans, visits, or writing.” Over the years, they have supported family programs at LACMA, helped The Corning Museum of Glass and other museums purchase important works in glass, and worked with glass-focused organizations like Pilchuck Glass School (Susan was on the board of trustees at Pilchuck for 13 years).
Last year, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the American Studio Glass movement, Dan and Susan began to disperse their collection among a number of museums they believed would particularly benefit from their gifts. The Corning Museum of Glass was included in this group, thanks to Dan and Susan’s long-standing relationship with Tina Oldknow, curator of modern glass at the Museum since 2000, and their deep respect for the Museum’s comprehensive collection.
“We have always thought about how we can increase visibility, and create awareness and appreciation of contemporary glass,” Susan says. “We are overjoyed that so much of our collection is now in public hands and in places where not only the general public but also kids and teachers can look at it—where it serves an even larger social purpose than displaying it in your home or office.”
Read more about the works from the Greenberg/Steinhauser collection donated to the Museum.