[PA-NJ Glassblowers] Maintaining the shine at CMoG

Tony Patti gaffer at glassblower.info
Sat Feb 25 12:00:21 EST 2017

Thought some folks might find this CMOG blog interesting from earlier this


In part because I actually did inquiring about how the pieces stay clean,
when I was at CMOG for the last GAS conference J


Maintaining the shine at CMoG


When I first entered The Corning Museum of Glass, I was immersed in an
experience that is unlike any other. The Museum's extensive collection is
hypnotic, drawing you in to admire each piece. Through the hustle and bustle
of the crowds that often populate CMoG's galleries, one can hear multiple
whispers asking the same question: 

"How do they keep these pieces so clean?"

Dusting Fern Green Tower with a "muppet" wand.

Dusting Fern Green Tower with a "muppet" wand.


CMoG's Collections and Exhibitions team is an all-seeing eye when it comes
to maintaining the shine of the collection. The team, led by collections and
exhibitions manager  <https://www.cmog.org/bio/warren-bunn> Warren Bunn,
handles objects spanning
<https://www.cmog.org/collection/galleries/glass-collection-galleries> 35
centuries. Many people assume that the team uses Windex, but the ammonia,
dyes and perfume used in Windex could be harmful to such delicate works.
"And it's blue," explains Bunn, "No cleaning products should ever be blue!"
Instead, the team uses a solution of 90 percent deionized water and 10
percent denatured alcohol to clean the collections. Standard dusting wands
(or Muppets, as the team likes to call them) are used to remove dirt and
dust particles. About 80 percent of the team's week consists of gallery
maintenance, including changing light bulbs and checking display cases to
see what works need to be tended to, cleaning cases and objects, and
returning them to their specific locations.


Many of the Museum's works have numerous components, including Dale
Chihuly's  <https://www.cmog.org/artwork/fern-green-tower> Fern Green
Towerand Liza Lou's  <https://www.cmog.org/artwork/continuous-mile>
Continuous Mile, which can be extremely tedious to clean.

"Anything with multiple pieces or that's out in open air is a challenge,"
Bunn said. "The Chihuly (Fern Green Tower) in the lobby is particularly
challenging because there are lots of parts and pieces, nooks and crannies.
Continuous Mile is challenging because it isn't solid; it's made up of
thread with glass beads on it and then it's woven together."

 <http://blog.cmog.org/2017/02/15/maintaining-the-shine/fern_green_02/> The
components that make up Fern Green are laid out for cleaning




When undertaking a full cleaning of Fern Green, the team used a lift to
deconstruct the sculpture from the top down, laying out the more than 500
pieces of one of the Museum's most signature objects. The process is
time-consuming but necessary, as Fern Green often collects dust and dirt
that is wafted in through the front entrance.

To clean another sculpture,  <https://www.cmog.org/artwork/forest-glass>
Forest Glass by Katherine Gray, it took collections staff about a week,
working roughly six hours a day. Composed of hundreds of drinking glasses,
Forest Glass needs to be cleaned using a lift to reach the top of the
installation. The lift is equipped with a cart that holds the team's
necessary tools, like the cleaning solution and dusters, and allows the
numerous components to be lowered for cleaning in a safe way.

The Collections & Exhibitions team clean the elements of Forest Glass.


The Collections & Exhibitions team re-assemble Forest Glass after cleaning.


With more than 50,000 works in CMoG's collection, the Collections and
Exhibitions team works on a continual basis. "It's like mowing a golf
course," Bunn said. "About every six months we start from one end of the
Museum and move to the other end."

Despite the fact that their work often goes unnoticed, Bunn and his team
believe in working hard to ensure the Museum always looks its best for all
of CMoG's visitors.

Warren talked about how it's like being at Disney when you drop something on
the ground, and you turn around and it's already gone. You never see the
people who work behind the scenes to make the magic happen. He often remarks
that it's a lot like the Wizard of Oz: "Pay no attention to the people
scrambling behind the curtain."

"It's our job to make sure visitors have this magical experience, so we take
it seriously and work hard to make sure everything looks great," he said.
"If we do our job well, they have this wonderful experience, and it doesn't
even register that we're doing our job."



Tony Patti

gaffer at glassblower.info


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