Hillary Chybinski: The Corning Museum of Glass: A Day of Science, Art and Fun for the Whole Family

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Corning Museum of Glass: A Day of Science, Art and Fun for the Whole Family

How is your family kicking off the Fall season? For us, it was a family trip to the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY.  Family Travel to new places is always exciting, and while this was a  sponsored trip, all opinions and experiences are my very own.

Family Travel - The Corning Museum of Glass: Chihuly Sculpture

I'm not sure how, but I had never heard of the Corning Museum of Glass before, despite the fact that it is the world's largest glass museum. It's approximately a 4-hour drive from Philadelphia, and we left on Friday evening so that we would have all day on Saturday to explore the museum. We had heard from friends that it was fantastic and you could easily spend all day there. They were right.

We stayed at the Radisson, Corning, which is about a mile from the museum, and right at the end of historic Market Street. If you go, we highly recommend the Radisson as a clean, friendly and convenient hotel. Both the food and staff were wonderful.

Saturday started with a Glassmaking Experience in the Studio. Ryan wanted to make a blown-glass pumpkin, Owen selected a fused-glass wind chime and John and I each made a formed-glass flower. Once we had picked out colors for our projects, we were all given safety glasses, and because John and I would be so close to the ovens and hot glass, we were given aprons, protective sleeves and gloves as well. What an amazing experience! The kids both had a blast, and were just fine doing their projects with the help of the glassmakers. I admit to being a little nervous, there were so many instructions.

Family Travel - Glass Blowing Experience at Corning Museum of Glass

Anyone can make their own glass project, you don't need any experience at all. The expert glassmakers guide you through the 40-minute process and when you're done, you have an amazing piece to pick up the next day, or have shipped right to your home.

Here is Owen's wind chime (you have to put it together yourself, but it's super easy):

My Scraps | Pressed Glass Wind Chime

And here is Ryan's blown glass pumpkin and our flowers: 

My Scraps | Blown Glass Pumpkin and Formed Glass Flowers

After our amazing Glass Making experience, we headed over to the museum to check out the Innovation Center and the Galleries.

My Scraps | the Corning Museum of Glass

The Corning Museum of Glass is home to a collection showcasing 35 centuries of glass-art, history, and technology. To keep the kids (and face-it, some adults too) entertained, the museum has Gallery activity sheets, audio guides and seasonal tours. We started in the hands-on Innovation Center, where there are live-narrated glass demonstrations and interactive exhibits. We are pretty used to the Franklin Institute here in Philadelphia and their hands-on exhibits, so the boys had a wonderful time in the Innovation Center trying everything out.  They even have a periscope from a REAL submarine, that looks out the roof of the museum.  John enjoyed all the science and technology in the center, from windshields and fiber optic cables to Pyrex cookware and missile nose cones.

Family Travel - Corning Museum of Glass

There is a daily schedule of the Glass Demos and Guided Tours, so you can plan to see what you want to see, when it fits into your visit. We attended the Optical Fiber Demo and the Glassbreaking Demo.  Ryan was selected from the audience to help out with the Glassbreaking Demo (here's a clip):

After some time at the Innovation Center, we went to check out the Gallery of Contemporary Glass and the Glass Collection Galleries.  John and I were fascinated with the Galleries. They were filled with the most amazing pieces, from glass found in the ground, to modern glass sculptures, and everything in between. There were functional pieces, like vases, and pitchers, and modern art pieces of all shapes and sizes. I found that talking with the kids about the pieces they saw, encouraging them to read the placards when they had questions, and sharing my own enthusiasm for what we were seeing, really helped to keep them entertained and interested. But honestly, the pieces were so amazing, you couldn't wait to see what was next.

Family Travel - Corning Museum of Glass
Ryan discovered this glass bat that was presented to a player for the Philadelphia Athletics back in the days of Connie Mack.

Glass Bat from Corning Museum of Glass

And Owen had a real appreciation for Tiffany vases, telling me, "Mom, look what the light does to these."

Tiffany Vases - Corning Museum of Glass

After visiting our favorite exhibits in the Innovation Center one more time, we had a snack in the cafe, cruised the Galleries again and then hit the GlassMarket.  The words "gift shop" do not adequately describe the GlassMarket. It is filled with international art, jewelry, dishware and more. The boys loved the marble machine, where you could enjoy watching the marbles move through the contraption, or for a small fee, purchase a token to get your very own marble. There was also a very nice selection of kitchen and home glassware.

Family Travel - Corning Museum of Glass

On Sunday, we took a stroll down Historic Market Street in Corning, NY. This area is called the Gaffer District, and the street is charming, filled with small shops and restaurants. There are outdoor areas, and artwork up on the buildings. So many great things to see, in a beautiful setting.

Family Travel - Corning, NY

After picking up our Glassmaking pieces, it was time to head back home. We had a wonderful time, and there are still things to see and do, so the kids keep asking when we are going back, which to me signals a successful Family Travel adventure.

Know Before You Go
  • Adult admission is $15, kids under 19 are FREE. 
  • If you want to Make Your Own Glass, there is an additional fee per person, from approximately $22 - $28.
  • There is free parking, and also a free shuttle that runs from the museum parking lot to the entrance, as well as the nearby Rockwell Museum and historic Market Street in Corning.
  • There is a cafe onsite with a variety of foods and drinks.
  • The museum is fully handicapped accessible.
Where will you go this fall?

catch you soon -

Disclosure - Travel arrangements and museum access were provided by TravelingMom.com. A very big thank you to them for providing us with such a wonderful experience. All opinions are my own, or that of my family.


  1. Oh my gosh- the wind chime and glass pumpkin and flowers are stunning--truly! Looks like a great family destination.

  2. Looks like a wonderful place to visit. I love that truck!