CMOG exhibition presents the many facets of medieval glass

Medieval Glass for Popes, Princes, and Peasants at the Corning Museum of Glass traces glassmaking from its height in the Roman Empire, through the radical social and political change of the Middle Age…

Medieval Glass for Popes, Princes, and Peasants at the Corning Museum of Glass traces glassmaking from its height in the Roman Empire, through the radical social and political change of the Middle Ages, when all but the simplest glassmaking techniques were forgotten, and up to the golden age of Venetian glassmaking during the Renaissance. The glass vessels and objects in the exhibit were designed for daily use or display. Items range from highly decorated drinking vessels to church reliquaries, highlighting the many uses of glass in medieval society and the significance of the material to local economies, religious ceremonies and scientific developments. “The phrase “medieval glass“ often evokes an image of stained glass windows, but there exists a remarkable range of glass objects made for daily use which provide rare insight into a cross section of medieval society”, said David Whitehouse, executive director of The Corning Museum of Glass and curator of the exhibition, in a release. “The objects in the exhibition trace the history of the Middle Ages in Europe through the lens of glassmaking”. Glassmaking saw its greatest era in the ancient world during the Roman Empire, when glassmakers used a rich variety of techniques to meet the demands of wealthy patrons. As the Roman Empire disintegrated and Europe became politically fragmented, there were fewer glassmaking centers. The demand for glass and other luxury goods fell, and many glassmaking techniques were lost. It was not until the the rise of craft guilds and cities in the late Middle Ages that glassmaking techniques were revived, setting the stage for the next great era of glassmaking: the emergence of Venice as the principal glassmaking center in the Renaissance. The more than 100 objects in the exhibit are drawn from the Corning Museum“s collection as well as from museums and cathedral treasuries in Europe.