The Corning Museum of Glass is located in the picturesque town of Corning, NY, nestled in the heart of Finger Lakes Wine Country. Just across the Chemung River is one of the most beautiful and active historic downtowns in Upstate New York. Called the Gaffer District (“gaffer” is a term for glassmaker), this area features charming restaurants, clothing boutiques, antiques stores and much more.
We want our Museum visitors to experience the town we call home, and to find all the great opportunities that exist to shop and eat local. Every day of the year, we run a free shuttle bus from our Museum parking lot. It goes to the front door of our Museum, then on to the Gaffer District. The shuttle stops in front of The Rockwell Museum and also near Centerway Square. Last year 91,000 visitors—almost 1/4 of the museum’s more than 400,000 annual visitors—took advantage of this service.
This weekend, we’ll retire our current buses, which are covered with a wrap that features the exterior details of the 200-inch disk, and put brand new buses on the road.
These new 22-seat buses are sleeker and quieter. The buses are wrapped with artwork that features pieces in our collection. Here’s a glimpse at what’s on the buses.
One side of the first bus features ancient glass portraits, and in fact, two of the subjects are related. The turquoise glass piece is a portrait of pharaoh Akhenaten, who ruled during Egypt’s Eighteenth Dynasty. The piece, acquired in 2012, is a rare inlay that was once part of a larger composition that depicted the full figure of the pharaoh. Inlays like this were used to decorate pieces of jewelry, furniture or for relief sculpture.
Akhenaten was the great-grandson of the pharaoh Amenhotep II, who is depicted in the tan glass sculpture, which is one of the earliest known glass portraits. It may not look like glass but in fact this royal portrait was cast in blue glass that turned the tan color during its long burial.
The third figure depicted is a circular ancient Roman disk featuring Medusa. She’s shown facing forward, with wings from the side of her head and with long hair.
On the other side are three very different kinds of containers from the Roman and Islamic eras. Each features a natural scene. The Corning Ewer, the cream and turquoise vessel, was made around 1000 A.D. and is the most accomplished example of Islamic cameo glass that is known to exist. It’s one of the masterpieces of our collection. It features several birds of prey and four-legged creatures exquisitely and intricately cut into the glass.
Roman glassmakers sometimes produced objects in unexpected and highly original forms. The unique blue fish featured on the side of the bus was assumed to be a lid—in fact, the cover of a dish for serving fish. Just lift the glass fish (the cuts on the underside of the fins and tail would have made a firm grip possible) and diners would find the real fish (about the size of a trout) resting on the dish.
The artwork in the shape of a bird is a unique blown vessel from Roman times. It was made in the first century AD and was likely a vessel used to hold perfume or cosmetic powder. Learn more about this work and other highlights of the Roman glass collection.
There are more than a thousand paperweights in the Museum’s amazing collection, three of which are highlighted on the side of the second bus.
In 2005, the Museum commissioned artist Josh Simpson to make its 1000th paperweight for the collection: a 100-lb Megaplanet, highly detailed and visually stunning piece that depicts the “world.”
The Houghton Salamander was a gift of the Honorable and Mrs. Amory Houghton in 1955 to the Museum. It’s a tour-de-force work made in France in 1878. The artwork features a salamander, which was thought to be able to survive fire unharmed and thus was long revered by glassmakers.
The final paperweight, which peeks out from the top of the bus, is the Aventurine Crown paperweight, made in the mid-1800s by one of the best-known French paperweight companies, Compagnie des Cristalleries de Saint Louis. Learn more about the story paperweights over time.
The other side of the bus features some of our most stunning stained glass windows.
One of our most popular works on display is the Window with Hudson River Landscape made in 1905 by internationally-renowned stained glass artist Louis Comfort Tiffany. The window, which was once part of a mansion in the Hudson River Valley, depicts the Hudson River landscape framed by hollyhocks, clematis, and trumpet vines. The window recently underwent some restoration work.
The round window featured, Ionic Structure of Glass by Dominick Labino, was commissioned by the Museum to celebrate the opening in 1980 of its new circular aluminum, glass, and mirror building designed by the architect Gunnar Birkerts. This work was recently reinstalled in our Heineman Gallery, and is now on public view for the first time in years.
The third window depicts the figure of St. Matthew. The window was designed in 1873 and made in 1909 for the Cheadle Royal Hospital Chapel in Cheadle, UK, near Manchester.
Over the winter, we’ll launch a third bus which will feature works in our science and technology collection on one side and works from our contemporary art and design collection on the other.