Corning Museum of Glass with Young Kids: a KidsOutAndAbout review | Kids Out and About Nashville

Corning Museum of Glass with Young Kids: a KidsOutAndAbout review

A bull in a china shop. A toddler in a glass museum. Similar images come to mind, right? I was nervous my recent trip to the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY might have a disastrous outcome with my four-year-old and one-year-old let loose in a building full of glass. Fortunately, I was dead wrong. We stayed for four hours and easily could have continued. Even if you’ve been before, the recent addition of the Contemporary Glass Gallery, which was completed in March 2015 and doubled the size of the museum, will make the Corning Museum of Glass worth another trip. KidsOutAndAbout is here to let you know how to make the most of the experience, even with the littlest ones in tow.

The Contemporary Glass Gallery

Meant to resemble a cloud, the new gallery is spacious, airy, and bursting with natural light. It’s a completely unique experience because, unlike most art museums where light is blocked to prevent fading in the artwork, light only enhances the natural beauty of these glass works. Similar to an art museum, however, you truly must take the time to hear the story behind the pieces to really appreciate them and uncover their secrets. IPads are available all around the gallery to give you the extraordinary story behind the thought process and creation and even the precarious installation of these pieces.

Prompt your kids to go beyond simply looking at the works by using the KidsOutAndAbout scavenger hunt.

1. Find the piece that looks like a set of lungs.

-Fascinating fact: The artist was diagnosed with a lung disease and studied his own x-rays to create this piece.

2. Find hidden objects in the glass forest. See the bird in the tree? What other details can you find?

-Fascinating factCreating glass requires a furnace that can burn at temperatures above that of lava. This piece is meant as a dedication to the trees that were lost to the glass making process.

3. Find the invisible woman.

-Fascinating factIf you look closely enough you can see her handprint from where the model was holding the shawl.

4. Find the chandelier blinking in morse code.

-Fascinating fact: The chandelier has been programmed to translate a poem onto the screen. The museum requested a poem about light for this exhibit.

Use the Glass App to learn more stories behind every piece.


The Interactive Exhibits

The museum is certainly not just a place for walking around quietly and looking at art. There’s plenty to do in the Innovation Center. Whisper to each other in the giant glass egg. Learn about the power of optical fiber. Watch light jump out of a stream of water. Play with lenses in the Optics Gallery. Beyond the exhibits there are different shows happening constantly throughout the day. The Hot Glass Show is a must-see. Professional gaffers ladle globs of molten hot glass onto their pipes and create a piece right in front of your eyes. Large screens and narrators explain every step, giving life to a ancient technique for today's learners. Internationally known glass workers have dubbed this one of the best glass workshops in the world. 


The Make Your Own Glass Workshop

No need to simply admire the work of others; become a gaffer yourself in the Make Your Own Glass Experience. And the best part? There are many options for kids of all ages - even my one-year-old was able to participate!  Make an ornament, a clock, a mirror, a picture frame, beads, a plate, etc and complete it together as a family. At first glance, the prices for this experience may seem a little steep. But consider this: the museum provides the materials and the workspace; after you complete the design, they finish it off in their kilns, then package and ship it to you. Ours arrived in less than a week in a huge box filled with packing to ensure they would arrive unharmed. Many store-bought pieces would cost more and not have the same sentimental value. 


The Gift Shop and Café

In all seriousness, do not skip the gift shop; we spent 45 minutes of our visit just looking around at the incredible items for sale. Ornaments, decorative plates, bird baths, wind chimes, and an entire kids’ section. This is where little hands could cause some damage. I put the one-year-old in the stroller for this part to keep him from grabbing something delicate. A student gave me a paperweight from the museum years ago and you can’t believe the number of comments I’ve gotten on it – a paperwork, for goodness sake - that’s how extraordinary these pieces are. 

Since you’ll be spending quite a few hours in the museum, you’ll inevitably need to stop to eat. There’s an impressive selection on the Café menu including vegetarian options and simple, healthy snacks like fruit cups and yogurt.

The bottom line for parents of young kids:

Room for strollers? Yes.

Privacy to nurse? Installation of a family room is coming.

Availability of healthy food? Sure thing.

Affordable? Kids 17 and under are FREE. You heard me. Free.

Another great outing even for the youngest family members? You betcha!

More info here:

© 2015,

Kathleen McCormack is Managing Editor of and lives in the Rochester, NY area. While her kids have a tendency to fall over at random, even they made it through the glass museum without breaking anything!