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How To Spend A Day At The Corning Museum Of Glass

How To Spend A Day At The Corning Museum Of Glass

Located in Corning, New York of the I-86, the Corning Museum of Glass is a popular attraction for visitors of all age groups. It features interactive exhibits, glass blowing demonstrations, an extensive gift shop and free tours. This is a day trip the entire family will enjoy.

In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about visiting the Corning Museum of Glass including how to make the most of your time.

Disclosure: We paid for our own tickets to the Corning Museum of Glass and this is not a sponsored post.

Our Corning Experience

Man reading an informational plaque about a glass sculpture in upstate New York
Mark looking at an exhibit inside the museum

Kristen grew up in the New York Finger Lakes and has visited the Corning Museum of Glass many times. We also temporarily lived in the region when Mark first immigrated to the US in 2019. Kristen has so many wonderful memories from this museum so she loved showing Mark her favorite spots.

The photos in this guide are from our April 2023 visit and we spent an entire day exploring the best things you can do at the Corning Museum of Glass. We also booked a glass making class so we’ll show you what to expect from that experience as well. Read more about us.

What Is The Corning Museum Of Glass?

Woman walking on the sidewalk towards the Corning Museum of Glass
Kristen standing at the entrance of the museum

The Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) was created in 1951 by Corning Glass Works on the companies 100th anniversary as a gift to further the exploration of glass. Every year, almost 300,000 visitors are welcomed at the museum which showcases one of the world’s most comprehensive glass collections and a very well known glass working school.

Glass is an ancient and versatile material that’s still studied extensively by both artists and scientists. The museum’s goal is to teach visitors about glass through art, culture, science, craft and design. Inside, you’ll find over 50,000 objects spanning 3,500 years.

Personally, we think the best part about the Corning Museum of Glass are the live and narrated glass working demonstrations. But if that doesn’t peak your interest, you can also attend a make your own glass class so you can bring home your very own masterpiece.

READ: Best places to visit in the Finger Lakes

Visitor Information

Entrance and museum shuttle sign for visitors
Main entrance to the Corning Museum of Glass

The Corning Museum of Glass is located within the stunning New York Finger Lakes region nestled between Niagara Falls (150 miles) and New York City (about 250 miles). It’s open year round from 9:00am to 7:00pm every day and the library is open from 10:00am to 4:00pm Monday to Thursday by appointment only.

  • Address: 1 Museum Way Corning, NY 14830
  • Location: Google Maps

If you’re planning to drive, you’ll find the museum just off exit 46 on I-86. Most people visit the museum as part of a longer road trip, but if you’re planning to fly in, the closest regional airport is Elmira/Corning Airport. The museum is only a 15 minute drive away and airline options include Delta and Allegiant Air with flights from Detroit and Orlando-Sanford.

Terp’s Enterprises can also arrange transportation from the airport to the museum. Call +1 (607) 795-4426 to make arrangements at least 24 hours before your flight arrives.

We like the Corning Museum of Glass because they offer free parking in a very large lot right across from the main building. The museum entrance is only a short walk or you can ride the free shuttle. Here is a parking map for the museum.

Inside the parking lot, there is also a Welcome Center which provides information for new visitors and restrooms or heat if needed (gotta love the snow in upstate New York).

Travel Tip: If you’re traveling with an RV, the museum has several large spaces in the back of the main lot for you to safely park.

Corning Museum Of Glass Tickets

Admission ticket prices for the Corning Museum of Glass
Admission prices for the museum can be seen on a large board in the main lobby

You’ll need a ticket to visit the Corning Museum of Glass and they are valid for two consecutive days. Here are the current prices:

  • Adults – $22
  • 62+ and students – $18.70
  • Local residents (ZIP codes begin with 148, 149, or 169) – $11
  • Children 17 and under – Free

A 15% discounted admission is available to visitors age 62+, AAA members, students and military. The Blue Star Museums Program offers free admission for active duty military from May 20th to Labor Day.

You can buy tickets for the Corning Glass Museum directly from the official website or onsite when you visit. If you book online, you’ll need to pick a date and time for your visit. You can also purchase tickets from third party platforms such as:

Travel Tip: If you’ve visiting in summer during the weekends, we recommend you book tickets online to secure your spot. This also goes for the glass making classes which we’ll discuss later in our guide.

If you’re new to the area, you should also consider visiting the Rockwell Museum which is located in Corning’s Gaffer District. You can purchase a combination ticket for both museums to save a little bit of money.

Here are the prices with the discount:

  • Adults – $30.30
  • Age 62 and up – $28.15
  • Students – $23.85
  • Local residents – $16
  • Children 17 and under – Free

A free shuttle runs between the two museums all day. This combination ticket is also valid for two consecutive days and you can revisit each museum as much as you want.

 

10 Best Things To Do At The Corning Museum Of Glass

The museum has three main floors with various galleries and workshops. Below we’ll show you the highlights so you can plan out what you want to do. We’ve also included the floor where you can find each specific activity in the museum.

An average visit to the Corning Museum of Glass is about 3-4 hours, but we recommend spending a whole day here. There are numerous activities and so much to see, especially if you want to make your own glass figurine.

1. Make Your Own Glass

Red and green ornament being made at the Corning Museum of Glass in the shop
Mark’s Christmas ornament from our glass making class
  • Location: Studio

Let’s begin this list of things to do at the Corning Museum of Glass with the popular glass making classes. It’s a really fun way to learn about glass and take home a unique souvenir. Class options including hot glass working, fusing and sandblasting with the help of an expert glassworker. No experience is necessary and opportunities are available for all ages.

If you want to make your own glass, it costs an additional $15-36 depending on what you choose to make. You’ll have to book ahead here and spots fill quickly so we recommend you book your experience online before your visit or the class could fill up.

Projects vary by season, and we booked in to make a glass flower and an ornament.

Kristen made the glass flower. She choose two colors and then formed the flower petals and stems while the glass was hot with the help of a glassblower. Additional PPE was provided.

Mark made a round Christmas ornament for our tree. He chose two colors and then helped blow the glass into it’s round shape. No additional PPE was required.

Travel Tip: Book a Make Your Own Glass class then schedule the rest of your visit around your class time.

Numerous displays in the Contemporary Art and Design Gallery
Numerous pieces in the Contemporary Art and Design Gallery
  • Location: 2nd floor

Before or after making your own glass, you should check out the Contemporary Art Gallery. It’s located next to the admissions lobby and it’s home to more than 70 works from the museum’s permanent collection. There are 4 main halls showcasing nature, history, design and material.

We like that many of the objects coordinate with recent events because it makes you think. If you read about every object, you could probably spend about 1-2 hours in this area.

3. Amphitheater Hot Shop

Birds eye view of the Amphitheater Hot Shop
Birds eye view of the Amphitheater Hot Shop stage
  • Location: 2nd floor

If this is your first time visiting the Corning Museum of Glass, you need to stop into the Amphitheater Hot Shop because this is where you can watch the live narrated glass blowing shows. The demonstrations are free and offered every day multiple times a day. You can expect each show to last about 30 minutes.

During our visit, we watched a glass blower sculpt a glowing blob of hot glass into a beautiful vase. He then broke the vase at the end of the show to demonstrate fragility of the glass. For demonstration times, check with the admissions desk, look at the official website or visit the board located outside the amphitheater.

Travel Tip: In the Hot Shop, there are four televisions showing a zoomed up view of the glassblower and what they do. So you can sit anywhere in the crowd and still have a good seat.

4. Lecture And Tours

Many glass cups and vases sitting on a shelf
Glass pieces sitting on a shelf
  • Location: Varies

Another great thing to do at the Corning Museum of Glass is join a lecture or seminar. This is a free option and you can hear from renowned artists, historians and glass experts. Unfortunately, a lecture was not available the day we visited, but it’s something we’d like to do when we’re back in the area.

Guided tours are also available in the summer daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day from 11:00am and 1:00pm. If you want to take a tour outside of these summer hours, they’re offered on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 11:00am and 1:00pm.

Travel Tip: Since 1961, the museum has offered a multi-day Annual Seminar on Glass with various experts from around the world.

5. 35 Centuries of Glass Galleries

The popular 35 Centuries of Glass Gallery at the Corning Museum of Glass
Exhibits in the gallery featuring 35 Centuries of Glass
  • Location: 2nd floor

One of the most comprehensive glass galleries in the world, the 35 Centuries of Glass features exhibits spanning more than 3,500 years ago from all around the world. Displays are organized into specific categories including ancient, Roman, Islamic, nature, Venetian, European, Asian, American, crystal city, paperweights, Tiffany studios and modern.

This section in the Corning Museum of Glass is an absolute must see because it tells the story of how glass began and showcases the triumphs of glass making throughout history. We thought the paperweight displays were fascinating and who knew paperweights could be so intricately detailed with such vibrant colors.

Travel Tip: If visiting with kids, let them be a glass detective and find specific objects throughout the gallery. Pick up a pamphlet with instructions as you enter this exhibit.

6. Grab A Bite In The Café

  • Location: 1st floor

On the ground level adjacent to the Museum Shop, you’ll find the Café at the Corning Museum of Glass. This a good place to take a break and pick up a quick snack. We like the café because you can take your food outside to enjoy in the courtyard, but indoor seating is available too.

Menu items include coffee, a noodle bar, pizza, soup, salads, sandwiches as well as grab and go hot options such as chicken tenders, cheeseburgers or black bean burgers. Here is the official menu. We didn’t eat here during our visit because we were saving ourselves for the famous mac and cheese at Mooney’s in the Gaffer District, but the cafe was filled with visitors.

7. Museum Shop

Glass objects for sale in the shops at the Corning Museum of Glass
Glass pieces for sale in the shops
  • Location: 1st floor

The shop at the Corning Museum of Glass can be a little overwhelming because this space spans an impressive 18,000 square feet with 8 individual boutiques. Here you can purchase artisan made jewelry, holiday ornaments, hand made glass art, bakeware, home goods and garden decor.

Travel Tip: Check out the $1000 Monopoly set made completely from glass!

8. Innovation Center

Man looking through a glass scope to see the points of interest in Corning
Mark looking through the scope in the optics gallery
  • Location: 3rd floor

Located on the third floor, the Innovation Center is one of the most interesting places in the museum. A 300-ft bridge connects the three sections and it’s a great place for kids to run around. Here are the three galleries inside the Innovation Center:

  • Optics Gallery – Discover how glass interacts with light
  • Vessels Gallery – The history of fiberglass and storage containers
  • Windows Gallery – Learn the basics of the windows we use today

There are multiple interactive exhibits and if it’s busy, you might have to wait your turn. However, you can read many informational exhibits while you wait.

9. Innovation Hot Shop

Artist at the Innovation Hot Shop making a red glass vase
An artist molding hot glass into a beautiful vase
  • Location: 3rd floor

If you liked the demonstration in the Amphitheater Hot Shop, you might like to attend another show in the Innovation Hot Shop. We attended both demonstrations and thought they were very similar. However, each demonstration was provided by a different glassmaker so the technique was slightly different. The Innovation Hot Shop is a smaller studio and you can get a closer view compared to the larger amphitheater.

Travel Tip: If you’re short on time, we recommend picking one demonstration, but personally, we enjoyed both and appreciated watching two different glass products being made.

10. Special Exhibits

Informational exhibit about the 1972 Chemung River Flood
Special exhibit in the Corning Museum of Glass
  • Location: 3rd floor

Last but not least, another thing you should do at the Corning Museum of Glass is visit one of the special exhibits located in the Westbridge or Gather Gallery. These exhibits will rotate and this is what we saw during our visit in spring 2023:

  1. Fire and Vine: The Story of Glass and Wine
  2. Blown Away Season 3
  3. Reused Restored Rethought: Glass After The 1972 Chemung River Flood

The 1972 Chemung River flood devastated Pennsylvania and southern New York because the surrounding communities were inundated with several feet of water. We visited with Kristen’s parents who experienced the 1972 Chemung River flood and they remembered photos that were shared in this exhibit.

Travel Tip: Look for the water line from the 1972 Chemung River flood in the lobby museum so you can see just how high the water levels were during this time.

Best Time To Visit

Since the Corning Museum of Glass is open everyday, you can visit any day of the week. We visited right when the museum opened at 9:00am on a Wednesday in April. There was one other couple waiting in line with us. However, when we left around 2:00pm, the museum was very full.

So if you want to avoid the crowds, we recommend visiting early in the morning on a weekday. The museum is very big so you can spread out from others quite easily, but the glass blowing classes may be sold out if you do not book those ahead of time.

The Morgan Conclusion

A red hot oven burning bright orange in the Ampitheater Hot Shop
Red hot oven with molten glass ready to be used

The Corning Museum of Glass is a unique attraction that showcases centuries of glass making. It features interactive exhibits, amazing glass blowing demonstrations and an extensive collection of glass art.

Is the Corning Museum of Glass worth it?

Yes, the Corning Glass Museum is worth visiting because it’s one of the most extensive collections of glass objects in the world. We think it’s a hidden gem in upstate New York because you can watch live glass blowing demonstrations or take a class to make your own glass souvenir.

Additionally, it’s very interactive museum that is great for all age groups. One of the games we always look forward to is finding the hidden object. This object is located anywhere in the museum and you’ll receive a prize when you find it. When we visited, we had to find a glass umbrella and it honestly took a us a long time to find.

After visiting the Corning Museum of Glass, you can visit Corning’s Gaffer District, visit the Rockwell Museum and stop at one of the many wineries or craft breweries nearby.

READ: Where to find the best Finger Lakes waterfalls

Our Corning Museum Of Glass Photos

We loved this museum and took many photos. Here are a few of our favorites so you know exactly what to expect:

Exhibit showcasing the size of countries with glass pieces
Interesting exhibit with world populations represented in glass
Yellow flower and red ornament from the Corning Museum of Glass
Our yellow flower and Christmas themed ornament from the glass making class
Man smiling and pointing to a glass umbrella, one of the hidden objects at the Corning Museum of Glass
Mark smiling because he found the hidden umbrella in the museum
Sign indicating the temperature of glass
The temperature required to make this glass dish
An optical illusion made from a brick of glass
An optical illusion made from glass
Main entrance with glass sculpture and Willys jeep at the Corning Museum of Glass
Dale Chihuly sculpture which is featured with the Seattle CityPASS
Man taking fun perspective shots with his camera
A perspective shot with our camera and glass
Close up intricate details of a glass paperweight
A close up view of a glass paperweight
Broken blue and white vase laying on a steel table
A broken vase on a table in the Amphitheater Hot Shop
A popular chess set at the Corning Museum of Glass depicting Christians and Jews
A very popular chess set on display at the Corning Museum of Glass
Woman posing for a photo in the Innovation Center at the Corning Museum of Glass
Kristen taking a photo in the Innovation Center
Old glass beaker exhibit showcasing many years of history
A history exhibit featuring old glass beakers

More From The Finger Lakes

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Want more New York content? Head over to our New York Travel Guides to explore the Finger Lakes, Adirondacks and the best of NYC.


We hope our guide to the Corning Museum of Glass helps with planning your visit!

Please let us know if you have any questions about the museum or the New York Finger Lakes in the comments below.

Happy Glass Blowing,

Mark and Kristen

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