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Clear Favorites with Glass Museums

It takes a special kind of creativity, along with about 2,000 degrees of heat, to create artwork out of glass.

Painting, sculpture and photography can all be fascinating, but few media capture our attention the way that glass does. Whether it’s a historic Tiffany stained-glass window or a tower of otherworldly blown-glass figures created by Dale Chihuly, a colorful, transparent piece of artwork showcases the imagination and skill of its maker in a way that makes us want to see more.

At glass museums around the country, groups can learn about America’s long and proud history of glassmaking and even have interactive glass experiences of their own.

Corning Museum of Glass

Corning, New York

Arguably the leading glass museum in the country, the Corning Museum of Glass is a must for any group traveling in the Finger Lakes region of New York state. The city of Corning was put on the map by the glass company of the same name that started there, and the city’s heritage in glass is reflected in the museum’s wide-ranging exhibits, which include more than 11,000 pieces of glass on display

Exhibition Highlights: Ancient and modern glasswork are on equal footing at this museum. The oldest pieces in the collection date back more than 4,000 years, and the newest addition, the 26,000-square-foot contemporary art glass gallery, opened in 2015.

Glass Experiences: Live glass demonstrations take place throughout the day in various areas of the museum, but the main venue is the Amphitheater Hot Shop, where visitors can see artists sculpting molten glass in the world’s largest glassblowing studio. Visitors also enjoy some time to peruse the large glass gift shop on-site.

Tacoma Museum of Glass

Tacoma, Washington

Tacoma, Washington, has a long heritage in the Studio Glass art movement and was, notably, the place where glass legend Dale Chihuly got his training. After a decade of planning by Chihuly and others in the area, the Tacoma Museum of Glass opened in 2002 to tell the story of Tacoma and studio glass in general. The only dedicated glass museum west of the Mississippi, the Tacoma Museum of Glass focuses on the work of 20th- and 21st-century artists.

Exhibition Highlights: The Tacoma Museum of Glass features both indoor and outdoor exhibits, allowing it to showcase works large and small by contemporary glass artisans from all over the world. It also has exhibits of glass artwork created by children and an artist-in-residence program.

Glass Experiences: Groups can have docent-led tours of the museum and watch glassblowing demonstrations in the Hot Shop Amphitheater. The museum also has a creative studio, where visitors can participate in glass and other arts workshops led by local artists.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.