In 2018, art fans in New York state who can’t make the trip to Steuben County to visit the Corning Museum of Glass can check out their floating mini-museum dedicated to the craft. Called GlassBarge, the traveling studio will cruise up the Hudson River and along the Erie Canal, providing live glass-blowing demonstrations in port cities along the way.
Corning, New York is home to Corning Incorporated, the major glass company once known as Corning Glass Works. Originally based in New York City and called the Brooklyn Flint Glass Company, the business relocated upstate in 1868 via New York’s rivers and waterways. Their commercial success ultimately led to the opening of the Corning Museum of Glass in 1951, which today contains one of the world's most important glass collections.
“The glass inventions and technology developed in Corning have shaped the modern world, from the first electric light bulbs for Thomas Edison and the invention of optical fiber for telecommunications, to the glass used in modern flat screen displays,” Rob Cassetti, Senior Director of Creative Strategy and Visitor Engagement at the Corning Museum of Glass, said in a statement.
Running from May through September, the upcoming GlassBarge voyage will help celebrate the 150th anniversary of the company's move from Brooklyn to upstate. The grant-funded trip kicks off in Brooklyn and ends in the Finger Lakes, with a concluding ceremony in Corning on September 22, 2018. Throughout the trip, glass artisans will hold live dockside demonstrations in Yonkers, Kingston, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo. Guiding the barge will be a historic tugboat, the W. O. Decker, which will travel alongside the Lois McClure, a replica of an 1862 canal barge, and the C. L. Churchill, a 1964 tugboat.
In addition to marking an industrial milestone, GlassBarge will “allow us to share our story with a special audience: our neighbors here in New York state, who all know and love the waterways that enabled Corning to become what it is today,” Cassetti tells Mental Floss.