Corning Museum of Glass and The Rockwell Museum

It’s important to note that I did NOT want to go on this little excursion. I may be living in paradise, but life has gotten busy and I’m suddenly mildly stressed and losing sleep. When Chris came up with a plan to head to Corning, I balked - it’d take too much time out of the day and I had too many other things to do! On the other hand we have family here and I cherish time with them. Family won out, but I doubted the decision for a good half of the 50-minute drive to Corning. Why is this drawn-out narrative pertinent? I was exhausted and crabby and not at all in the right frame of mind, but we spent 4 hours total in these museums and I enjoyed every minute. They are that good.  Well... I also had excellent company so I’m sure that added to the fun.

Jacob and Kaitlin in the Contemporary Glass Gallery in the Corning Museum of Glass. Lynne was there too :)

We started at The Rockwell Museum and purchased a combined pass for $25 to save a few dollars; the Rockwell alone is $10 for adults and the Corning Museum of Glass $18 (discounts are available for AAA, military, senior citizens, etc). The Rockwell houses Bob and Hertha Rockwell’s personal collection of American art and artifacts. You’re confused right? I was too at first, but Chris emphatically stressed that the Rockwell is not a Norman Rockwell museum and we would not see any of his work. He was wrong! Ha! I found one early Norman Rockwell piece upstairs :).  Although the collection is impressive, it’s not enough to my taste to want to dive deep so I worked through the galleries fairly quickly. I spent the most time in the fascinating temporary photography exhibit “The Colorado River: Flowing Through Conflict”.

Book highlighting a photography exhibit in the Rockwell Museum

After an hour at The Rockwell, we drove to our next stop. Driving wasn’t necessary; there’s a shuttle that runs regularly between the two museums.  We’d planned to stay two hours at the Corning Museum of Glass but spent three and the time flew by. I have vague memories of visiting when I was a kid, but it was nothing like this. I was captivated from the get-go by the Contemporary Art and Design Gallery.

Piece in the Contemporary Art and Design Gallery in the Corning Museum of Glass

We tore ourselves away to watch a flameworking demonstration in the Innovation Center (she made a distillation tube) and then settled into a routine of sorts: explore a gallery, pop into a demo, repeat. In addition to flameworking we learned about fiber optics, glass-breaking, and glass-blowing. The glass blowing demo in the Amphitheater Hot Shop had a fun surprise - they gave away blown glass from previous demonstrations (!).

Glass blowing workshop in the Corning Museum of Glass

As mentioned before, time flew. Who knew glass is so interesting and varied? They had glass art, ceramics, safety glass, fiber optics, medical glass, windows, vessels, and more. The only time I flagged was in “35 Centuries of Glass”.  35 centuries is a long time.  Lotta stuff.  History overload.  Brain shut down.  Regained blissful state in Contemporary Glass exhibit.

It’s tough to part from Keuka and the 50-minute drive is daunting, but if you have a long enough stay (or perhaps a rain-soaked day), I highly recommend the Corning Museum of Glass. The Rockwell may not appeal to all, but the glass museum will surely please.

"Smallpox Virus and HIV" in the Corning Museum of Glass

The Rockwell Museum: 111 Cedar St., Corning, NY 14830
Corning Museum of Glass: 1 Museum Way, Corning, NY 14830