Corning Museum of Glass Travel Guide

What to expect when visiting Corning Museum of Glass

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Why Visit Corning Museum of Glass

I have always wanted to go to the Corning Museum of Glass (at least… for the last few years).

And when I saw a billboard advertising their “make your own” glass pumpkins, I HAD to visit during the fall and make a glass pumpkin (they looked just like the magical pumpkin from “Cinderella”)!

At first thought, it may seem like a museum all about glass would be pretty boring. But everyone who had been here actually found it really cool. And seriously—glass is freakin’ cool!

I’ll explain everything, from where to park to whether “make your own glass” was actually worth it or not.

Plus, I have a million (a hundred) amazing pictures of the ridiculously cool exhibits. If you want to see all the pictures, check out this page.



Where to Park for Corning Museum of Glass

First off, when you look up the directions, you don’t want to type in “Corning Museum of Glass.” What you actually want is the “Corning Museum of Glass Welcome Center.”

This is where you are going to park. It’s incredibly easy to find, because it is right off the highway (I-86). You can see the welcome center banner from the highway.

The Welcome Center is in the middle of the parking lot, and you can park on either side.

How to get from the Welcome Center to the Museum

There are two ways to get from the welcome center to the actual museum: walk, or take the shuttle.

The Free Shuttle

There is a shuttle stop that will take you from the welcome center to downtown Corning, and then to the museum.

This is a bit out of the way, because it goes downtown (the Gaffer District) first, but if you don’t want to walk, or if you want to stop and explore downtown (either on your way to the museum or on your way back), this is a good option.

Walk

It’s actually not a long walk at all! The walk is just to the end of the parking lot, which is on the corner of a busy street. You cross the street at the crosswalk, and then you’re just walking up the sidewalk to the museum front doors! It’s that simple!

There’s even a little red trail for you to follow, to make sure you don’t get lost.


Basic Info

stained-glass-window-corning-museum-of-glass

How much time do you need at Corning Museum of Glass?

We spent around 3 hours walking through the museum and making our own glass. We also spent a good amount of time perusing the gift shop.

Can you take pictures at Corning Museum of Glass?

Yes, pictures are allowed, but flash photography is not allowed.

Can you go into the shops at Corning Museum of Glass without a ticket?

Yes, you can come just to shop.


Make Your Own Glass

If you want to make your own glass at the museum, you have to book a timed slot online ahead of time.

There are only two spots available for each time slot, but there are a lot of time slots offered.

How much time does the Make Your Own Glass experience take?

It’s not very long at all. It only took us about 10 minutes for the whole thing.

We did a hot glass project, but they also have fusing and sand blasting projects that can take up to 40 minutes.

Do you need a museum ticket to do the Make Your Own Glass experience?

No, you do not need a ticket for Corning Museum of Glass in order to do the make your own glass experience.

The make your own glass experience is a separate ticket. So if you’re coming to the museum and also want to make glass, you need to purchase both tickets. If you’ve already been to the museum, or just want to make glass, you only need to buy the ticket for that.

Where is the Make Your Own Glass experience?

Corning Museum of Glass is a huge complex of multiple buildings. The Make Your Own Glass experience is not in the same building as the actual museum.

If you take the escalator down from the main entrance to the the gift shop’s entrance, right across from the gift shop is the exit/entrance to the courtyard area.

Across the courtyard is another building that houses the Frederick Carder Gallery, and the Make Your Own Glass studio, among other things. To get to the studio, you’ll walk straight across from the museum, and then turn to the right. You’ll see the big banner hanging out front.

How hands-on is the Make Your Own Glass experience?

  • When we visited in 2020, we were not allowed to actually blow air into our glass (for obvious reasons) so they came up with an alternate method of glass blowing. I believe that they have since gone back to letting you blow the air into it, which would be more hands on than our experience.

What you do first is pick out the colors you want for your glass project. Once you have your colors picked out, your main job now is to watch. A staff member will do all the hard work (so hey—you can’t mess up!) shaping your glass.

Then it’s time to blow air into it. This is the part you get to do. What you actually do now is step on a pedal that pumps air into your pumpkin (or other glass project) and makes it bigger. They’ll tell you when to step on the pedal and when to stop. Meanwhile, you can watch your little pumpkin grow in front of you!

Do you get to take your glass home with you right away?

No. Once your glass piece is finished, it’s somewhere in the thousand degree range. So it’s placed in a special oven to cool overnight.

You can pick it up after noon the next day, or you can have it shipped to your house. We had our pumpkins shipped, and they were safely snuggled in their box with tons of paper, bubble wrap and packing peanuts.

Was it worth it?

Even though it was a lot more like “watching” than “making,” I still think this experience was worth it. At least if you’re planning on buying a glass pumpkin or something or other in the gift shop.

The cost of the class is basically the same price as the cost of a pumpkin in the gift shop (and there are A LOT of pumpkins in the gift shop to choose from!), but in addition to having a glass pumpkin to take home, we also got to watch it up close being made. And pick out our own colors. And “help” make it.

It really is cool (HOT actually—right next to the fire!) getting a front row seat to watch the glass being formed and shaped.

Yes, there is a free glass blowing demo in the museum, but this was just for us.

  • Be sure to check out all the seasonal projects available for make your own glass! For Christmas they have adorable snowmen and Christmas trees, which I now want to go back and do!


The Shops at Corning Museum of Glass

The shop is HUGE, and is basically divided into two parts. The first half is the really fancy, really expensive stuff. The other half is the more fun, more affordable stuff.

You can basically find something for everyone. From Christmas ornaments to paperweights, t-shirts to sculptures, research books to toys, it’s all here, and it all has to do with glass (or Penguin Pierre!).

But wait…WHO is Penguin Pierre?

Penguin Pierre is the Corning Museum of Glass mascot/safety guide, and is completely adorable! So obviously I bought the (expensive-ish) Penguin Pierre t-shirt in the gift shop!


The Museum Galleries

There are several different sections to explore in the museum, and they all have a completely different feel to them.

The Contemporary Glass Gallery

When you first walk in you will enter the Contemporary Glass Gallery. This is a fun, open-feel area that is fantastic to photograph. Stark-white walls make great backgrounds for the strange, conceptual glass sculptures.

Innovation Galleries

Leaving behind the white, open space of the contemporary gallery, this area has a lot of interactive exhibits and glass demonstrations that teach you about the history/science of glass.

  • It’s also where you’ll find most of the best selfie spots.

Can you see the cafeteria floor below my feet?? I actually found standing on a glass floor totally freaky!

35 Centuries of Glass

This is where you’ll find all the old historical pieces of glass. I found it a bit boring at first, compared to the rest of the museum (I mean we’re talking dishes compared to a giant rope made out of black beads!), but I soon found plenty of fascinating things to look at.

These paperweights though! There were walls upon walls of insane paperweights!

Ben W. Heineman Sr. Gallery of Contemporary Art

Much like we started, we ended with a bright, open gallery of the craziest glass pieces you’ve ever seen. It’s insane the shapes that glass can take!

There are even more galleries housed at the Corning Museum of Glass, but these are the main ones you will see in the museum. And after seeing everything mentioned in this article, you’ll have spent well over 3 hours here.

Hopefully now you are prepared for your visit to Corning Museum of Glass! It’s important to support museums, and, well, basically everything right now! And you can tell yourself that while you’re spending lots of money in the gift shop!

Again, if you want to see photos upon photos of the amazing glass works at the museum, click here.

If you want to wait and see them for yourself, book a ticket online at their website!


Other Things to do near Corning, NY

Watkins Glen

If you’re looking for other things to fill your time while you visit Corning, be sure to check out nearby Watkins Glen State Park. It looks like something out of a fairytale.

The Gaffer District

You can also spend some time exploring the downtown Gaffer District, and following the chocolate trail.”

The Rockwell Museum

You’ll know it when you see the giant buffalo sticking out of it. This fine art museum is the only Smithsonian affiliate in upstate NY!

Wegmans

If you haven’t been to a Wegmans before, you need to go to one while you’re in the area! No, it’s not just a grocery store. But also it’s the best grocery store.

Check out this video of some of the best attractions near Corning:


Places to Eat in Corning

There are tons of restaurants to choose from in the Gaffer District, so just stroll up and down the streets, maybe follow your nose a bit, and choose one.

Here are a few good options, if you need some help choosing:

The Cellar

The Cellar is a little pricey, but they bring you a tabletop campfire for their homemade s’mores, so how can you top that?? This is one of the most popular restaurants in Corning.

Mooney’s

Mooney’s is famous for their mac ‘n cheese! We ate at Mooney’s when we visited Corning. They have tons of different kinds of mac ‘n cheese to choose from.

Burgers & Beer of Corning

Burgers and Beer of Corning is a local restaurant with a hotel right above it! It’s a pretty easy walk to dinner if you’re staying at the Gaffer Inn (though don’t forget to wander around the rest of the Gaffer District too).

Wegmans

The cafe at Wegmans is always a good place to eat, so check out their food bars, or pick up a pre-made meal to cook in your hotel room or in their dining area.


Where to Stay in Corning

When I first wrote this article in 2020… this was a section about how to stay in a hotel… because you had to sign up for private pool times and get a breakfast in a bag to go.

Thankfully, that’s not the world we live in anymore, so in lieu of social distancing hotel tips, here are just some nice places to stay in Corning:

Radisson

The most popular place to stay in Corning is the Radisson hotel, right downtown in the Gaffer District. You can easily walk out your door to the cute shopping/dining area. You can also get a shuttle from the Gaffer District to Corning Museum of Glass, or walk to the museum from your hotel.

Hilton Garden Inn

The closest hotel to Corning Museum of Glass is the Hilton Garden Inn. It is just across the street from the museum, and also within walking distance of the downtown Gaffer District.

Lodging at the Gaffer Inn

The most unique place to stay in Corning is the Lodging at the Gaffer Inn. This hotel is housed above Burgers & Beer of Corning, one of the local restaurants in the Gaffer District.

Quality Inn

When we visited, we stayed at the Quality Inn. It was a comfortable and affordable hotel, and is just a few minutes drive from Corning Museum of Glass and the Gaffer District.


What to Watch

Blown Away

Before (and after) you visit Corning Museum of Glass, watch the reality show Blown Away on Netflix.

The show features competitions between glass-blowing artists. Experts from Corning Museum of Glass have worked as consultants on the show through its 4 seasons, and they have a behind the scenes documentary showing at the museum.

You can even see pieces from the series on display at the museum, and buy Blown Away pieces in the gift shop!


Any more questions?

If you have any more questions about visiting Corning Museum of Glass or the local area, feel free to email me, or comment below.

Planning a trip?

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