Capping a truly momentous year for glass, The Corning Museum of Glass has achieved a new distinction: being named one of the “7 Glass Wonders of the World.”
The announcement was made during the closing festivities of the United Nations International Year of Glass (IYOG) 2022. The year officially concluded with a Conference and Ceremony at the University of Tokyo, Japan, on December 8-9, which was attended by our very own President and Executive Director Karol Wight. This event was followed by an official debriefing held at the United Nations headquarters in New York City on December 14.
The year-long, global initiative was spearheaded by the International Commission on Glass (ICG), the Community of Glass Associations (CGA), and the International Committee of Museums (ICOM)—whose collective planning resulted in thousands of collaborative activities around the world. The designation by the United Nations General Assembly presented an unprecedented opportunity to underscore the technological, scientific, and economic importance of glass: at conferences, in museums and galleries, at festivals, business-to-business gatherings, and at schools and universities.
Throughout the International Year of Glass, The Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) furthered its mission to inspire people to see glass in a new light. “We seized the occasion to participate in conversations with glass experts from a broad range of disciplines and industries, opening the door to future collaborations,” said Karol Wight, who served on the North American Steering Committee for IYOG2022. “International peers across glassy industries are increasingly aware that The Corning Museum of Glass plays an important leadership role in transforming the world’s understanding of the art, history, and science of glass.”
The International Year of Glass Closing Conference in Japan on December 8-9 gave voice to scientists and technologists worldwide, providing an opportunity to share common issues and promote the developments being imagined and acted on. During the conference, Wight presented on the impact of The Corning Museum of Glass, an institution dedicated solely to the material of glass.
An official debriefing session was held on December 14 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York by the international steering committee that led the global celebration. The event included a review and impact of the year’s many activities and future implications, along with networking opportunities for participants.
7 Glass Wonders of the World
As part of the culminating International Year of Glass celebration, a worldwide call was launched to identify the ‘7 Glass Wonders of the World’—seven objects, buildings, or places of the world where the glass had a ‘fundamental’ role. More than 50 proposals, submitted by regional organizations from each continent, were assessed for originality, innovative character, and historical, cultural, and industrial character. The initiative was coordinated by Teresa Palomar, a researcher from VICARTE (Portugal) and ICV-CSIC (Spain), the artist Lothar Böttcher, and glass professionals from different areas such as arts, architecture, science, and industry formed the prestigious international jury.
After weeks of deliberation, the jury named the following 7 Glass Wonders, including The Corning Museum of Glass!
- Glass from the Tomb of Tutankhamun: currently at the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, and, from 2023, also at the Grand Egyptian Museum, Gizeh (Egypt). The featured video is a significant global collaboration of 2022, a partnership made possible by CMoG’s Ancient Glass Curator Katherine Larson with peers at the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum in Mainz, Germany, and Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt, to create a new film highlighting the glass objects which accompanied Tutankhamun to the afterlife.
- Lycurgus Cup: The British Museum, London. This cup displays a miraculous color effect. Under normal lighting, the glass appears jade green, but when lit from behind, it turns ruby red. Scientists have researched that this phenomenon is due to gold and silver nanoparticles in the glass. The cup is one of the few and most luxurious glass vessels of Roman times, the cage-cups, where the glass blank was painstakingly cut and ground to leave the motif, as a “cage”, suspended from the surface. Among these, the Lycurgus cup is the only well-preserved example with figures.
- Sainte-Chapelle: Paris, France. Stained-glass windows in Medieval churches collect the outside light and turn it into shapes that glow in the most striking colors inside the church. Windows are often prominent in Gothic cathedrals, but in no other medieval building are the windows as dominant as in the Sainte-Chapelle. It was commissioned by King Louis IX of France as the royal chapel and built from 1242 to its consecration on 26 April 1248. Nearly two-thirds are still the original glass panes dating back nearly 800 years, truly forming walls of light.
- The Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants: Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Leopold (1822–1895) and Rudolf Blaschka (1857–1939) were a father-and-son team of Bohemian glass artists active in Dresden, Germany. From 1886 to 1936, the Blaschkas produced 4,300 glass models that represent 780 plant species in their finest detail.
- The Corning Museum of Glass: Corning, New York, USA. The largest glass collection in the world, combined with a library that seeks to build a comprehensive collection of books, archival, and rare materials about glass, and a studio where artists teach their art of glassmaking. The Museum opened its doors in the small town in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York in 1951. Despite its distance from large cities, it welcomes more than a quarter of a million visitors from all over the world each year. The Museum preserves and expands the world’s understanding of glass, with an educational and aspirational mission: to inspire people to see glass in a new light.
- Optical Fibers: A glass rod, when heated, can be pulled into an ever-thinner and seemingly endless glass thread. In the 1960s, researchers set the stage for a technological revolution, and since the 1970s, glass fibers about as thick as a human hair have been used to transport huge quantities of information, functioning, in simple terms, as light bouncing in a tube. The extensive and invisible network of optical fiber is ever-expanding throughout the world, delivering emails, news, your favorite films, and cute videos of cats almost instantaneously.
- Hubble Space Telescope: The first dedicated observatory was launched and deployed into orbit by the space shuttle Discovery on 24 April 1990. Two mirrors of ultra-low expansion glass offer Hubble its optical capabilities. A primary glass mirror of 2.4 m diameter and weighing approximately 800 kg reflects its light on the 0.3 m secondary mirror. Hubble has revealed crystal clear views of our universe—from distant stars and galaxies never before seen, to detailed observations of the planets in our solar system, and has made more than 1.5 million observations during its 30 years of service.
“It is truly an honor for our institution to be recognized and included in this prestigious listing,” said Karol Wight. “The United Nations’ designation of 2022 as the International Year of Glass demonstrated that people are discovering something we at the Museum have known all along—that glass is one of the world’s most remarkable materials. The UN’s celebration provided an unprecedented backdrop against which we have leveraged the stories of glass to global audiences.”
As we enter 2023, we won’t let the fun stop. Here, at The Corning Museum of Glass, we’ll continue to celebrate the many extraordinary facets of glass and hope you will too—join us online or in person and discover for yourself what makes glass so unique.
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