I’ve enjoyed two visits to Jamestown, Virginia to watch the glass blowers making glass vessels in the same manner as the colonials. After reading this article by Patrick Whalen, Wheaton Village is on my list to visit!
Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center
Located in southern New Jersey, Wheaton Village houses the Museum of American Glass, the Creative Glass Center of America, a number of craft studios and five museum stores selling handmade gifts. Although the focus at the center is on displaying and demonstrating the art glass process, whole studios are dedicated to the creation of ceramics and wood carving, the latter of which is situated in a building that was formerly a slave home.
The Museum of American Glass offers custom-designed tours for glass collectors, students, and anyone interested in the art, including a special glass hunt for children. The 15,000-piece collection consists entirely of glass work made in the United States, including a number of contemporary studio glass pieces. The most notable item is a glass jar originating from the first successful glass factory in the United States. All the artwork is chosen for appearance and craftsmanship. To follow the history of glass manufacturing in the U.S., exhibits are split into collections based on the type of object, such as bottles or paperweights; historic periods, including the 1920s to 1980s section and the Nineteenth Century Art Glass room; art forms, like cut glass and art nouveau. There is even an entire room dedicated to pieces made in New Jersey.
Activities For Visitors
Visitors to Wheaton Village have the opportunity to view the daily glass blowing and artist demonstrations in the Glass Studio as well in the other Craft Studios. They can converse and ask questions to working artists, or listen to narrators explain the complete production process of various items. There is even a separate studio, called the Flameworking Studio, dedicated to the creation of glasswork from rods over a torch.
Activities in the Glass Studio include the hands-on “Make Your Own Paperweight” program that is enjoyed by around 600 people a year. The Ceramic Studio features yearlong internships for students of all ages who want to learn about art glass, kiln building, firing and glaze mixing. Other opportunities at the center include workshops, performances, weekend festivals and educational programs.
Wheaton Village is also home to the Folklife Center that opened in June 1995. The center embraces the cultural diversity found in southern New Jersey, an area populated by over 35 different ethnic, religious and regional groups. The Folklife Center was established with the aim of preserving crafts and traditions passed down in families through the generations. The center conducts research and offers demonstrations, exhibitions and workshops based on different forms of music, dance and crafts.
Copyright 2012 Patrick Whalen. Images used under Flickr‘s Creative Commons License.