Wednesday April 4, 2018 | by Valerie Hughes

The Corning Museum's glassblowing barge readies for its summer-long tour of New York State waterways

The Corning Museum of Glass has announced the dates and times of ports of call for its four-month waterway tour known as "GlassBarge," a project which commemorates both the 1868 relocation of the Brooklyn Flint Glass Company from Brooklyn to Corning, New York and the last 150 years of glassmaking in Corning. The summer tour will bring glass-blowing demonstrations along the same route that the Brooklyn Flint Glass Company took through the Hudson River and Erie Canal. The company shipped its glass blowing equipment via the New York Waterways to Corning, where it eventually became the corporation known as Corning, Inc., which founded the museum in 1951. To honor this pivotal relocation, CMoG conceived of and built a 30-by-80-foot barge equipped with patented all-electric glassblowing equipment meant to bring the history of glass out of the museum and into the towns along New York State canals and rivers. Furthermore, the tour, which will kick-off on May 17 at Brooklyn Bridge Park (in conjunction with UrbanGlass, which publishes the Hot Sheet), is meant to honor the continued importance that waterways have on New York’s culture, communities, and industries. After its start in Brooklyn, the tour will conclude on land in Corning on September 22nd with a community-wide celebration. Before its end though, the tour will be hitting Poughkeepsie, Albany, Buffalo, and Seneca Falls, among other cities throughout the summer. The full list and accompanying dates are below.

Not only does GlassBarge commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Brooklyn Flint Glass Company’s relocation, but it also observes the 200 years that have passed since the construction of the Erie Canal in an event known as the Erie Canal Bicentennial. Since the Erie Canal was constructed in eight years from 1817 to 1825, the Bicentennial will celebrate in the summers of 2017 to 2025 in a blur of festivals, biking events, kayaking, and other fun activities along the waterways.  In the 200 years after its construction, The New York State Canal System has grown into a 500-mile network that permits waterway passage from the Atlantic Ocean to the upper Great Lakes.

Robert Cassetti, the senior director of creative strategy and audience engagement for CMoG, emphasizes the historic importance of glass in an official announcement, citing “the first electric lightbulbs for Thomas Edison and the invention of optical fiber for telecommunications, to the glass used in modern flat screen displays.” Cassetti is eager for the tour to highlight important waterfront communities and tell the story of Corning’s experience with glass.

The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum will play a role in the GlassBarge’s activites by inviting people aboard the Lois McClure to learn about life on a canal barge during the 19th century. The Lois McClure is a replica of an 1862-class sailing canal boat with multiple masts, a type of boat known as a ‘schooner.’ To maneuver through the canal, these types of sailboats’ masts would be lowered in order for them to continue the journey. Additionally, members of New York City’s South Street Seaport Museum will be present to talk about their historic tug which will help the GlassBarge glide through the water.

On its expedition, the GlassBarge will give daily demonstrations from 11 AM to 6 PM, and each demo will run for 30 minutes each. Registration for each stop will be allowed 4-6 weeks in advance and reservations are strongly encouraged. Demos can also be viewed from the shore for free.  

GlassBarge 2018 Locations and Dates:

May 17-28: Brooklyn Bridge Park
June 1-3: Yonkers
June 8-10: Poughkeepsie
June 15-17: Kingston
June 21-24: Albany/Troy/Waterford
June 30-July 1: Little Falls
July 7-8: Sylvan Beach
July 13-15: Baldwinsville
July 20-22: Fairport
July 28-29: Lockport
August 3-5: Buffalo
August 11-12: Medina
August 17-19: Brockport
August 24-26: Pittsford
September 1-3: Seneca Falls
September 14-16: Watkins Glen
September 22: Corning

GLASS: The UrbanGlass Quarterly, a glossy art magazine published four times a year by UrbanGlass has provided a critical context to the most important artwork being done in the medium of glass for 35 years.