Donor Profile: Doug and Katya Heller

Doug and Katya Heller (Photo provided)

Doug and Katya Heller (Photo provided)

My introduction to the world of glass occurred in the early 1970s through Minna and Sidney Rosenblatt, noted antique dealers who inspired and ultimately mentored me. At that time, the American Studio Glass movement was young and, even though the Rosenblatts dealt mainly with work from the Art Nouveau period, studio artists were contacting them for representation. While Minna and Sidney found this “new glass” laudable, they did not think they should represent it and they suggested that their son, my good friend Joshua, and I work with these young artists. We agreed, and in 1973 we began representing John Nygren, Mark Peiser, Roland Jahn, and James Lundberg.

One of the Rosenblatts’ assignments in my glass education was visiting The Corning Museum of Glass to learn about ancient and historical work so I could better understand contemporary glass. Several years later, in 1979, the Museum’s landmark exhibition New Glass: A Worldwide Survey caused a profound change in my approach to the business, which was focused on American glass. New Glass included a lot of contemporary European work, especially Czech glass. I drove back to New York City transformed. Once home, I wrote to all the exhibitors and told them about the impact their work had on me. Soon I received a host of replies, and it was the beginning of relationships that last to this day.

Fifteen years later, another life-altering event occurred for me in Corning at the 1994 Libensky´/Brychtová exhibition. That was when I met my wife Katya, who at the time was the Libensky´s’ interpreter. During the opening ceremonies she interpreted at a lecture I attended, and it was an extraordinary experience for me because I felt that throughout the talk she was speaking to and looking at only me.

So it should be understandable that The Corning Museum of Glass is a special place for me. Over the years, I have always felt welcome in Corning, and the web of relationships I’ve made has been gratifying and embracing. Making friends and community building through organizations like the Fellows and the Ennion Society is something that Corning does particularly well. The Museum’s depth of commitment and overall level of excellence inspires people. Corning is unique in the glass world, and people want to be a part of it.

When I spend time in Corning, I feel exhilarated and infused with the belief that my work is part of something worthwhile. The Museum is an organization that casts a long shadow. It honors the past, promotes the present, and helps ensure that in the future glass will continue to be recognized for the extraordinary role it plays in civilization.

– Doug Heller

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Doug Heller is a Museum Fellow and Ennion Society member. The Ennion Society is an honorary group for donors who make annual gifts to the Museum of $1,200 or more. Donations are used for acquisitions to the Museum’s glass collection, the world’s most important collection of glass, including the finest examples of glassmaking spanning 3,500 years. Members of the Ennion Society play a critical role in ensuring the Museum’s stature as the international leader in the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge about the art, history, science, and technology of glass and glassmaking.

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