Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Toledo Museum of Glass a Winner

The Toledo Museum of Glass if you have ever been there, is a beautiful, simple, accessible, unpretentious setting for the glass arts. Today the Toledo Blade announces that the museum design has been the winner of the 2010 Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, the article says, "used everyday materials to create ethereal structures that shelter flowing, dreamlike spaces," says the writer in the Toledo Blade.

This means the Toledo Museum is a see-through low glass walled structure that fits onto the slight rise of the inner city setting very unassumingly. There are great glass doors between the inner "rooms" that separate the museum proper from the central glass making area (completely AIR conditioned, by the way) and the other seasonally changing galleries. The plan has a gift shop near one entrance and a cafeteria by the other. You can see across and out to the city to classically styled buildings in the federalist style. Bus tours of school children are likely to be in attendance when you visit as the glass making industry is Toldeo's pride, even though it's mostly defunct now a days.

Architects Ms. Sejima, 54, and Mr. Nishizawa, 44, will receive a $100,000 grant and a pair of bronze medallions for winning the top honor in the field. And maybe some plum new commissions, we hope.

"We want to make architecture that people like to use," said Ms. Sejima, who likened the pair's structures to public plazas, where visitors can roam freely in groups or find comfortable spots to spend time on their own. This is exactly how it feels to be at the Toldeo Glass Museum. It also helps that the guards have pride in the works on display, many of which are gifts from the Owens-Corning founders, Mr and Mrs Libby.

In the collection are works from Roman times through the present. The collection is great for turn of the Century (the 19th) works of pressed and cut glass from the factories in the mid-west. Naturally there are some contemporary works from glass artists from the 1970's through today; all donations and the quality is very uneven. Remember the first glass making seminar held with Marvin Lipofsky, Dominic Labino and Harvey Littleton, the origin of the Studio Glass Movement in America, was held in 1962 at the former Toledo Museum. From this inauspicious beginning, the Studio Movement was born.

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