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I LOVE the Corning Glass Museum in the Finger Lakes, NY

Corning Glass Museum aliens
Did you know glass art could be this awesome?

Is the Corning Museum of Glass Worth It?

YES! I have a new favorite museum, and it’s not a traditional one. The Corning Museum of Glass in the Finger Lakes region of New York is the largest display of glass art in the world, smacking you in the face with over 3,500 years of pieces you never thought possible from such a taken-for-granted material. Come with me as we explore the treasures this building holds!

Corning museum of glass sunburst table
This colorful table is made of glass!

Corning Glass Museum Renovations

Did you know that the Corning Museum of Glass just completed a vast and stunning new wing? As an art and rchitecture lover, I nearly swooned upon entering the fresh addition. Its entire design was created to bring in the light: a luxury that traditional museums cannot have, since sunlight fades paintings and textiles… but makes glass glow!

Corning glass museum inside
The architecture of the museum itself is a work of art.

Glass Art by Chronology of Oldest to Modern

Each section of the museum has a different theme, with big, contemporary pieces up front, then slightly older modern pieces, then historic works dating back to one of the world’s oldest known pieces of glass art: the portrait of an Egyptian pharaoh from around 1500 B.C.E.

Corning glass museum
I want to marry this museum.

Corning Glass Museum with Kids

I toured the museum with my dear parents-in-law, husband, and traveling toddler, Devi. Part of the reason we had so many adults with us was it seemed a terrible idea to bring a mischievous and energetic 1.5-year-old into a glass museum! But was it?

This glass art installation looks like birds flying and makes my heart soar.
This glass art installation looks like birds flying, and makes my heart soar.

Child-Proof Gorilla Glass to the Rescue

I needn’t have been worried, though. Rock-hard “Gorilla Glass” protects all the pieces from a little guy’s destructive punches, and there’s even an entire wing devoted to hands-on play and learning for children!

The Glass Museum was fun for all ages!
The Glass Museum was fun for all ages, from our toddler to my parents-in-law!

Artist Education at the Glass Museum

Something I found fascinating is that many of the works of art were created by artists who had never worked with glass before. The Corning Museum of Glass prides itself on being an institute of learning as well as a museum, so many artists come in order to collaborate with and learn from master glassblowers so they can translate their ideas into this miraculous medium.

Corning glass museum: pipettes and cat vase
These pipettes and cat vase are made to bring a smile to your face.

Global Glass Art as Political Statement

Many of the pieces have political and activist meanings. See the smashed ruby red glass chandelier below? It’s a commentary on how much “Venetian Glass” is now actually counterfeit, thus “shattering” the purity of the art!

(Interestingly, when I posted a photo of this piece on my @WorldLillie Instagram account, a reader commented that she’d seen it exhibited several months before in another city. My immediate thought was: “How does one safely transport a giant, shattered glass sculpture?!”)

Corning glass museum Smashed red glass chandelier
Smashed red glass chandelier makes me pant with excitement.

Hidden Symbolism of Glass Art

The piece pictured below has a brilliant message. From far away, it looks like three trees, but upon closer inspection, the trees are made out of hundreds of colored glass cups that the artist found in secondhand stores.

Her message is that glassmaking can take a horrible toll on the environment that few people are aware of, so we should reuse and recycle rather than pouring so many resources into polluting industry.

Corning museum of glass: These "trees" are made out of secondhand drinking glasses!
These “trees” are made out of secondhand drinking glasses!

Largest Traditional Glass Paperweight in the World

Politics aside, many of the thousands of pieces in the museum exist for art and beauty. There is an entire wall dedicated to displaying glass paperweights and how to make them.

At the end of the row sat a hulking orb that I was told is the largest traditionally-made paperweight in the world, measuring over a foot high. Here’s the coolest part: The artist’s wife is an astronaut, so the piece’s theme is outer space!

Corning glass museum: The world's largest traditionally made glass paperweight.
The world’s largest paperweight.

Brilliant Glass Innovation and Inspiration

Other pieces are just genius. In the one below, the artist sliced up a “perfect rock” he found in Japan and painted each slice on individual glass sheets. This means that if you look at it from the side, all you see is air, but from the front or diagonal, you can see the rock seeming to float in front of you!

Corning glass museum sliced rock in glass
Can you see the rock floating between the glass sheets?

Things to Do Near Corning, NY, Finger Lakes

Now, as you browse more of the beauty the museum of glass has to offer, I will intersperse it with suggestions about great Finger Lakes attractions near Corning, New York!

Tiffany window stained glass corning museum of glass art
No glass museum is complete without a Tiffany window.

Consider Staying in Elmira, NY

Corning, New York is a DELIGHTFUL town and I highly recommend basing your Finger Lakes exploration there. That said, if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option (with fascinating Mark Twain history to boot), consider a hotel in Elmira, NY. Click that article to see why we enjoyed staying in Elmira, ourselves.

Corning glass museum sculpture
The tension between falling and glass…

Don’t Miss Watkins Glen State Park

While the Corning Museum of Glass has become one of my all-time favorite museums, the Finger Lakes have also gifted me my new favorite state park. Watkins Glen State Park is a MARVEL of canyons, waterfalls, and trails. It exceeds all expectations and is a can’t miss attraction in the region.

Corning museum of glass
A couple taking an epic selfie against a glass art wall.

Finger Lakes Wineries for the Win

Hey, wine glasses are made of… glass, right? There’s a nice connection between the Corning glass museum and the fact that the Finger Lakes wineries are known far and wide for beverages, as well as the beauty of their vineyards. Pairing the Corning museum with a wine tour is highly recommended.

Corning museum green glass chandelier
I want this green glass chandelier for our house!

Seneca Lake and Keuka Lake Beauty

Driving a short distance beyond the Finger Lakes town of Corning, NY you come to a glorious set of, er, finger-shaped lakes. We LOVED the scenery and eateries of Keuka Lake and Seneca Lake and wished we’d had more time to do boating, swimming, and exploring around each.

Corning, NY glass museum: This "rope tire" is made out of thousands of tiny glass beads, and took five years to assemble.
This “rope tire” is made out of thousands of tiny glass beads, and took five years to assemble.

Beyond Corning, NY: Other Recommended Museums

Since I have so many luscious Corning Museum of Glass photos to show you, I suddenly have some free space for words to recommend other fabulous museums around the United States. As you’re inspired by Corning, also take in these other family-friendly art and learning spots…

Corning museum exhibit hall glass demonstrations.
The giant exhibit hall where you can see glass demonstrations.

Related: Chihuly Glass Museum in Seattle, WA

No discussion of glass art is complete without a homage to Dale Chihuly — the famed glass artist who actually has several pieces in the Corning Museum of Glass. The Chihuly glass exhibit, Seattle in Washington state is one of my favorite art installations of all time — in no small part because I could live in rainbow-colored rooms forever!

Glass museum in Corning, NY finger lakes
A glass piece that draws from the lines and colors of nature…

Other Colorful Art Museums in America

In Western Massachusetts, MASS MoCA boasts giant art installations that need to be seen to be believed. You can spend an entire day there!

Portland, Maine has the delightful Portland Museum of Art which has a range of styles, from impressionists to modern art.

Dripping glass knives.
Dripping glass knives.

Additional Kid-Friendly Museums in the U.S.

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA has a similar flavor to the Corning Museum of Glass in that it can be enjoyed on multiple levels by all ages of visitors.

Ok, this next exhibit no longer exists, but it was so fun that I need to include it because its vibrance reminds me of Corning glass: Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts displayed this massively colorful and moving historic retrospective of quilt patterns in America, and even our baby loved it!

Corning glass museum kids' play and learning area.
The kids’ play and learning area. Devi loved it!

An Artists’ Studio Connected to the Corning Museum

In Huntsville, Alabama, I encountered Lowe Mill: a brilliant complex of artist studios where you can wander, wondering at the creative skills abounding around, and even buy items that strike your fancy!

It was there that I met an artist who paints fictional maps on people’s skin! I wish I’d had more time to interact with the artists while at the Corning glass museum, but one gets a glimpse of their process and thoughts while gazing at their works in the exhibit halls.

Corning glass museum: vase is made of thousands of glass threads.
This vase is made of thousands of glass threads.

Public Art in Other Cities as Vibrant as Corning

The whimsical nature of the Corning Museum of Glass connects in my noggin to the fish art installations of Fishtown, Philadelphia: a neighborhood of Philly which is decorated high and low with cut-outs and paintings of swimmy animals!

Corning Museum of glass with kids
Peeking at my husband through a glass ball wall.

In Central Square of Cambridge, Massachusetts (near my home of Boston), the bright colors of the Corning museum are echoed in the ever-changing public art of Graffiti Alley: a set of walls between buildings which is constantly being re-decorated by street artists.

Though this is more in the architectural range, the Fallingwater house by Frank Lloyd Wright in Pennsylvania is similar to the concept of glass art in that both are functional first and beautiful second — but that function and beauty dance together, and WOW is the beauty strong.

Corning glass museum finger lakes ny
These pieces make me hungry for hard candy.

Finally, the public art in Curacao, the Caribbean island I so enjoyed is similar to the Corning Museum of Glass in that it combines old and new elements to beautiful the surroundings, but also convey a message.

Thank you for taking that detour to explore artistic connections around the world. Now let’s return back to the Corning glass museum, itself!

Corning glass museum crystal serving dish.
Just a humble serving dish.

Glassmaking Demonstrations and Streaming Online

Not only is the museum itself great, but the Corning Museum of Glass website is second to none. For example, if you can’t make it out to the Finger Lakes, you can use the website to watch live streaming videos of glassmaking (!) and browse every art installation in the new wing, replete with films about how they were made.

Corning museum of glass: Dripping glass art
Dripping glass art is so cool.

The Corning Glass Museum Gift Shop

Back to the actual building. Be warned that the giant gift shop is downright dangerous. It’s a museum of gorgeous pieces in itself, but the twist is that you can buy any of the objects! Take a gander at this lovely peacock lamp, below.

Stained glass in Corning, NY
The Corning Museum of Glass’s gift shop is highly tempting.

Make Your Own Glass at the Corning Museum

“Wait!” you may be hollering, “What about these ‘Make Your Own Glass‘ lessons I’ve been hearing about in the museum? You didn’t talk about them here!”

Never fear, chums, there’s a whole article dedicated to just that (a.k.a. me making terrified faces as molten glass drips from a tool three inches from my hand) which you can see by clicking that link. Now, I hope you’ve seen why the Corning Museum of Glass has stolen my heart!

Want more? See my big list of other things to do in the Finger Lakes.

Corning museum of glass gift shop
Colorful glass gift shop awesomeness.

Want more glass art photos, ideas, and tips? Check out my giant list of fabulous decorative glass exhibits around the world!

We were guests of Corning Museum of Glass, but all opinions and desires to eat glass like candy are mine.


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Christina Wagar

Friday 29th of January 2016

Our children really enjoyed the sandblasting workshop. Amazing place for sure!


Saturday 30th of January 2016

We loved the Make Your Own Glass workshop, too! Here is the separate article about that:

Cathy Sweeney

Tuesday 22nd of September 2015

Absolutely stunning works of art. I visited the Corning Museum of Glass when I was a young girl and was in awe. I'm sure it's even much more impressive now. Would love to visit again.


Thursday 24th of September 2015

The renovation and new wing are not to be missed!


Monday 21st of September 2015

Wow! What amazing artwork. The whole time I scrolled through those pictures I was amazed at the sheer creativity of each piece. I can't imagine what it took to create such masterpieces with as delicate a material as glass. That's got to take incredible talent! Thanks for sharing this creative inspiration! :-)


Thursday 24th of September 2015

SO creative!

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