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Tuesday March 24, 2015 | by Andrew Page

The glorious new Corning wing pioneers the use of Gorilla Glass to make display cases disappear

As readers of the Spring 2015 edition of GLASS (#138) know, the design of the new Contemporary Art + Design wing at The Corning Museum of Glass is based on the power of natural light to allow artwork in glass to come alive. The issue's feature article ("A New Frame for Contemporary Glass") and back-page essay by the wing's architect Thomas Phifer ("Designing the New Contemporary Wing of The Corning Museum of Glass") reveal a single-minded focus on bathing glass in indirect natural daylight to provide optimal viewing conditions. With architect Phifer viewing the museum wing itself as a vitrine, how to approach protecting the work without interfering with the visual effects so painstakingly achieved? The answer came when the architect, together with the Corning team and exhibit designer Kubik Maltbie, hit upon using the museum's corporate parent's specialty-glass known as "Corning Gorilla Glass," which is widely used in smart phones and tablet computers for its strength, lightness, and optical clarity.

With the gala grand opening last weekend, Corning celebrated numerous firsts with this pioneering project. It is also the first museum to use the same glass found on nearly 3 billion touch-screen devices to protect not only the artwork, but the visuals. Security systems never looked so good. Sandwiching a super-strong clear laminate layer between two 1.5-mm-thick layers of Gorilla Glass provides a whisper thin and yet super-strong protective barrier that is artfully deployed to minimize its impact on the views of the artwork. This three-layer laminate only clocks in at less than 1/4-inch in thickness, and its striking clarity further limits its visual impact. 

With the new wing's focus on technology to help expand understanding of the work on display (and limit the need for expansive wall text), it is fitting that the artwork protected by Gorilla Glass is also further illuminated by information read upon touch-screen devices running the GlassApp that provides in-depth information and supporting video and text.

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 more than 40 years.