Virtual Journeys into the Collection: Waiting for the Moment of Spectacle

This recurring blog series will feature virtual gallery walks with staff members from The Corning Museum of Glass. Everyone at our Museum interacts with the collection in different ways depending on the job they do and the perspective they bring. Hear from fascinating people and learn about their favorite objects as they provide a virtual peek at some of the treasures in our collection—and make plans to come see them in person when we reopen! This next comes from Nick Simons, Guest Services Supervisor.

Nick Simons

Witnessing the moment of ‘spectacle’ is one of the most rewarding aspects of working with our guests at The Corning Museum of Glass. The reactions to spectacle can be very different; some people gasp, some people laugh, and some focus intently. Other times you will hear someone say, “Hey, come look at this!” or, “Whoa!” Likewise, the pieces that elicit these responses are just as diverse: some are large in scale, others are more delicate; some pieces have extravagant color schemes, while others are more minimalist. As a member of the Guest Services Team, I find myself privileged to directly interact with the Museum’s guests and share in their reactions to our immersive collection. Here are some of my favorite pieces that never fail to cause spectacle. 

Gardner’s Fog

For most guests that visit the Museum, the first piece that they will see upon entering the galleries is Fog (2012.4.53) by Ann Gardner. This large sculpture, at the entrance to the Contemporary Art + Design Galleries, contrasts exquisitely against the pure white of the gallery walls. For many guests, this piece challenges their preconceived notions of how glass art will take form. It is great to watch guests move around the piece and observe one of the individual mosaic-covered pods and try to figure out how the piece was made (an answer which can be found on the nearby information placard!). Visit the Museum at different times of the day and see how the piece “changes” appearance depending on the sun’s position in the sky.

Detail of Gasch-Muche’s 30/06/2007

Shortly after observing one of the over 100 pods that compose Fog, guests will come face-to-face with a jaggedly sharp cube of borosilicate glass shards, or, if standing further back, a soft, fur-like cube that appears “soft” and “approachable.” The sculpture, 30/06/2007 (2008.3.1) by Josepha Gasch-Muche, will give you the opportunity to watch guests walk forward and backward, as they try to understand the impact of light on the shards of glass, and what it does to the overall appearance of the piece. 30/06/2007 is one of those pieces where you will hear someone say, “Hey, come look at this!” or “How does it do that?”

Gasch-Muche’s 30/06/2007
Richardson’s Giant Sea Anemone Paperweight

Often, I too will be a guest at the Museum, and so a piece that causes and evokes spectacle from me is Giant Sea Anemone Paperweight (2006.4.116) by Cathy Richardson. As one of the over-1000 paperweights in the Museum’s collection, I find myself drawn to this one specifically due to my fascination with our planet’s oceans and the beauty (and mystery) that they contain. I find myself captivated by this miniature seascape encapsulated in glass; it is like a tiny little world frozen in time. Serene, peaceful, and untouched. The detail of the plants, the schools of fish, and the vibrant realism leave me staring intently, studying the intricate details, and imagining the possibilities that the scene could represent. 

Leaving the main Museum building, some guests might find themselves across the parking lot in The Studio. This brings us to the conclusion of our brief tour of spectacle-causing pieces (and this is by no means an exhaustive list.) One of the extraordinary aspects of art is how it speaks to different people; glass, as a medium for art, can, literally, take many different shapes and appeal to a broad audience. At The Studio, it is truly a privilege to witness guests seeing their own Make Your Own Glass pieces come to life. To see the looks on their faces after they uncover a carefully wrapped ornament, flower or sculpture is a spectacle in itself. 

Guests celebrate collecting their Make Your Own Glass objects from The Studio.

Ask someone that has visited the Museum what their favorite part of their visit was or their favorite piece, and you are sure to get a multitude of answers. What is your favorite part? Maybe it is the history, perhaps sculpture, maybe one of the live demonstrations, or maybe it is the unique architecture of the buildings themselves. Maybe, just maybe, it is all of it; that the totality of the experience is a spectacle itself. For me, it is the joy of seeing the different reactions of our guests, which is the most significant cause of spectacle.

Click here to read the previous post in this series by the Museum’s social media and photography specialist, Amanda Sterling.

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