Chinese flock to see glass come to life
Representatives from the Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) met with guests at an event on Thursday in New York City to facilitate a dialogue about the museum’s increasing popularity among Chinese tourists.
Visitors from China make up close to 40 percent of the museum’s annual visitation figures, according to Elizabeth Duane, the director of marketing and community relations with CMoG.
“As far as seeing glass, we are very unique,” Duane said. “But the key is getting Chinese visitors to realize there’s more to New York than New York City.” Corning, NY, is about 250 miles from New York City.
“CMoG has the largest collection of glass in the world — glass that’s 3,500 years old — so you can see glass that ranges from the ancient to the modern and contemporary,” Duane added. “Live hot glassblowing, flame working and glass breaking demonstrations are all ways in which we tell our audience a bit more about glass, so that we can bring glass to life.”
Founded in 1951 by Corning Glass Works (now Corning Inc), the museum is a not-for-profit entity that houses what is largely considered “the world’s best collection of art and historical glass”.
Corning’s collection, which is home to more than 40,000 items, features objects like glass portraits of Egyptian pharaohs as well as contemporary glass sculptures.
As part of CMoG’s annual appreciation event for Chinese tour operators, Duane and Sally Berry — CMoG’s tourism sales and marketing manager — led a discussion on Thursday about current visitation trends and future plans for the museum.
Efforts to help further accommodate Chinese visitors have included printing translated brochures, glassblowing demonstrations in Mandarin and offering alternative language tours of the museum’s facilities.
CMoG also decided last month to allow the use of China Union Pay, China’s largest bankcard according to Berry.
In recent years, CMoG has started offering free training for Chinese-language tour guides, a move that Berry sees a boon to business because CMoG “welcomes so many Chinese visitors”.
“Corning is the place to see glass in America,” Berry said. “We have a lot of people posting photos and talking about the museum on Weibo, and as our Chinese visitors grow, we’re adapting and making the change to make things better.”
oG has the largest collection of glass in the world — glass that’s 3,500 years old — so you can see glass that ranges from the ancient to the modern and contemporary.” ELIZABETH DUANE THE DIRECTOR OF MARKETING AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS WITH CMOG
As part of its free training program, the CMoG trained 70 Chinese-language tour guides last year. This year it has trained 250.
The opportunity to host events in New York City not only gives the museum an important venue to broadcast the features and amenities, but also helps it advertise for the greater Upstate New York area.
“We’re using this as a moment to educate visitors on what there is to do in and around Corning,” Duane said.
Through interactive exhibits and demonstrations, CMoG — a museum in western New York dedicated to the art, history and science of glass — tells the story of one of the world’s most widely used materials.
“Everyone who comes to the museum walks away with something, whether it’s from the store or something you make yourself,” Duane added. “As a visitor you can make your own glass and all ages can participate, so if you’re 2 or 92 you can make your own glass.”