Women in Glasshouses: The Complex Identity of Helen McKearin

Helen McKearin’s status as an expert on American glass is well earned. During her lifetime, she wrote four books on the subject, conducted glass collection surveys, curated museum exhibitions, and seemed to be constantly engaged in research on early American glass. In 1965, McKearin’s editor at Crown Publishers mentioned that she had essentially started The Corning Museum of Glass.1 Recognizing this was an exaggeration, McKearin responded that “I didn’t really start the museum! I was midwife and then nanny for a few years.” Her word choice is intriguing; while acknowledging her role in getting the Museum up and running, McKearin also placed herself within the cult of domesticity, or women’s traditional roles.

Portrait of Helen McKearin. John “Jack” E. Whistance Collection. MS 0173. The Rakow Research Library, The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York.

Who was the real Helen McKearin though? Was she the “writer, lecturer, and glass industry expert” described in the 1940 Federal Census? Or was she Mrs. Albert E. Powers, “housewife and spare-time writer,” as she frequently referred to herself throughout her life? In reality, McKearin seemed to occupy two spheres. In the public sphere, she was a well-respected authority on American glass; in the private sphere, she was simply the wife of an insurance broker.

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Rob Cassetti, the creative way

2020 has been a monumental year. There have certainly been times of difficulty, but also moments of innovation and progress. And for some, that change has been positive, a steppingstone to new roads and new adventures. This is certainly true for Rob Cassetti, who announces his retirement from The Corning Museum of Glass after more than 20 years of service.

A career of creative excellence is something we can all strive to achieve. For Rob, that endeavor has been essential; it’s a deeply rooted way of thinking, a calling, and a joy for him to practice. It’s the only way his brain works. Rob’s professional life has been one steeped in creative people, energy, places, and experiences, and for many of these moments, he has been the instigator, the spark that brought it all together.

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Women in Glasshouses: Woman to Woman – Selling Glass in the 20th Century

There are plenty of vintage magazine and newspaper ads that tell the story of how companies have used images of women to sell more glass products. But when you get to poke through all kinds of odd bits and pieces of glass history as I do by virtue of working at a library that lives and breathes it, you can see that companies employed women to do all sorts of marketing and sales. And the marketing tactics seem all too familiar…

Ad for Pyrex. The Topeka State
Journal. November 19, 1910. [Chronicling America].

Remember the Ella Fitzgerald Memorex ads (Is it live or is it Memorex?) or Britney Spears hawking Pepsi products? Yes, celebrity endorsements were a thing, even back then. One such celebrity was Sarah Tyson Rorer, an editor for the popular women’s magazine Ladies Home Journal. Rorer traveled around the country lecturing on domestic topics like cooking, cleaning, organizing and decorating, and her appearances drew large crowds of women. Conveniently, many of her lectures were held at stores, where women could buy the household tools Rorer used in her demonstrations. Companies also paid Rorer to promote their brands in ads, like those for Pyrex bakeware. What better way to sell pans than having them praised by a cooking expert whose magazine columns are devoured by millions of readers?

The sales floor was another area where companies sought out women to sell more glass. The logic was that a woman would be more likely to understand what other women wanted and could lead them to purchase a product much more easily than a man could.

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From NASCAR to Netflix, everything is Connected by Glass

This week, on October 1, 2020, the Museum’s virtual program Connected by Glass will air its 10th episode, a special discussion in connection with our new mini-exhibit Transparent: voting in America.

To reach this milestone is an exciting and well-deserved one for all of the staff working behind the scenes to bring you these engaging conversations, and the topic this week is an apt one for such an occasion.

This week’s episode will be moderated by Marvin Bolt, curator emeritus of science and technology at The Corning Museum of Glass, and he’ll be joined by special guests Ellery Foutch, assistant professor in American Studies at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont, and Mark Johnson, a civil rights attorney in Kansas City who teaches election law at the University of Kansas School of Law in Lawrence, Kansas.

The discussion will focus on topics touched on in the exhibition, including the notion that our past gives evidence showing that democracy can survive deep disagreements and that the desire for transparency in voting is a core value of our nation.

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Rob Cassetti, the creative way

2020 has been a monumental year. There have certainly been times of difficulty, but also moments of innovation and progress. And for some, that change has been positive, a steppingstone to new roads and new adventures. This is certainly true for Rob Cassetti, who announces his retirement from The Corning Museum of Glass after more than 20 years of service.

A career of creative excellence is something we can all strive to achieve. For Rob, that endeavor has been essential; it’s a deeply rooted way of thinking, a calling, and a joy for him to practice. It’s the only way his brain works. Rob’s professional life has been one steeped in creative people, energy, places, and experiences, and for many of these moments, he has been the instigator, the spark that brought it all together.

Read more →

Meet Penguin Pierre: From the Shelf to the Spotlight

Meet Pierre!

He sat casually in the corner of an office workspace, just waiting for his unlikely rise to fame. Born of sand and fire during artist Catherine Labonté’s live stream demo, this goofy-looking character could make you smile just by looking at him. And really, what more could he have hoped to accomplish than spreading simple happiness to an office filled with museum marketing employees? Then COVID-19 hit, and those employees packed up their desks and left to work from home for the foreseeable future, leaving Penguin Pierre in solitude—with no more faces to light up.

Then, when Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium shared videos of a penguin called Wellington waddling around their empty spaces; inspiration struck! Only, Pierre couldn’t waddle around the Museum… he’s made of glass. Except, could he?!

Penguin Pierre has the whole Museum to himself.
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Going His Own Way: Victor Nemard, a memorial

The Corning Museum of Glass has lost one of its warmest, kindest smiles. It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the passing of our own Victor Alexander Nemard, who died suddenly on March 17, 2020. He was 61.

Victor joined the Museum in 1996 and began his career as a buyer for the Museum Shops, which was known as the Glass Market at the time, before taking the reins as Senior Manager, a post he held for more than 20 years.

In that time, Victor oversaw two major renovations. The first was an expansive redesign of the retail space during the Museum’s 2001 renovation, which created one of the largest museum gift shops in the United States with eight boutiques devoted to various glass shopping experiences. The second came in 2015-2016 with the redesign and renaming of The Shops in conjunction with the opening of the new Contemporary Art + Design Galleries, creating the world-class retail experience we know and love today.

Walking through The Shops, Victor’s presence was felt in every small detail. From the seasonal bouquets and decorations to the visionary strategy that makes The Shops unique. And if you were lucky, you might have found Victor slowly walking the aisles, his hands clasped behind his back, carefully looking at the displays, the positioning of a piece of glass and the way the light fell on it, or the way a glass-beaded scarf was draped across a hanger. He was a quiet, ever-smiling presence and if you found him ruminating in this way, he was always one to stop, to talk, and ask you how you were.

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CMoG Keeps You Busy: Things You Can Do at Home

Are you at home and in need of new sources of inspiration? Have you already exhausted your to-do list of house projects, cleaned the kitchen multiple times, finished several books, and asked everyone you know what’s good on Netflix? Well, don’t worry, The Corning Museum of Glass has some fresh ideas for you and the whole family.

We’ve searched our blog archive for a selection of unique things you can do from the comfort of your own home while still practicing social distancing, so let’s see what’s on the agenda for today.

 

Perhaps it’s time you dusted off all the old Pyrex you have stored away in various cupboards and hidden in the attic and gave everything a thorough clean.

Read this blog about how to correctly clean your Pyrex collection and restore everything to its former glory. Maybe you’ll want to start baking afterward!

 
Read more →

Rob Cassetti, the creative way

2020 has been a monumental year. There have certainly been times of difficulty, but also moments of innovation and progress. And for some, that change has been positive, a steppingstone to new roads and new adventures. This is certainly true for Rob Cassetti, who announces his retirement from The Corning Museum of Glass after more than 20 years of service.

A career of creative excellence is something we can all strive to achieve. For Rob, that endeavor has been essential; it’s a deeply rooted way of thinking, a calling, and a joy for him to practice. It’s the only way his brain works. Rob’s professional life has been one steeped in creative people, energy, places, and experiences, and for many of these moments, he has been the instigator, the spark that brought it all together.

Read more →

Meet Penguin Pierre: From the Shelf to the Spotlight

Meet Pierre!

He sat casually in the corner of an office workspace, just waiting for his unlikely rise to fame. Born of sand and fire during artist Catherine Labonté’s live stream demo, this goofy-looking character could make you smile just by looking at him. And really, what more could he have hoped to accomplish than spreading simple happiness to an office filled with museum marketing employees? Then COVID-19 hit, and those employees packed up their desks and left to work from home for the foreseeable future, leaving Penguin Pierre in solitude—with no more faces to light up.

Then, when Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium shared videos of a penguin called Wellington waddling around their empty spaces; inspiration struck! Only, Pierre couldn’t waddle around the Museum… he’s made of glass. Except, could he?!

Penguin Pierre has the whole Museum to himself.
Read more →

Going His Own Way: Victor Nemard, a memorial

The Corning Museum of Glass has lost one of its warmest, kindest smiles. It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the passing of our own Victor Alexander Nemard, who died suddenly on March 17, 2020. He was 61.

Victor joined the Museum in 1996 and began his career as a buyer for the Museum Shops, which was known as the Glass Market at the time, before taking the reins as Senior Manager, a post he held for more than 20 years.

In that time, Victor oversaw two major renovations. The first was an expansive redesign of the retail space during the Museum’s 2001 renovation, which created one of the largest museum gift shops in the United States with eight boutiques devoted to various glass shopping experiences. The second came in 2015-2016 with the redesign and renaming of The Shops in conjunction with the opening of the new Contemporary Art + Design Galleries, creating the world-class retail experience we know and love today.

Walking through The Shops, Victor’s presence was felt in every small detail. From the seasonal bouquets and decorations to the visionary strategy that makes The Shops unique. And if you were lucky, you might have found Victor slowly walking the aisles, his hands clasped behind his back, carefully looking at the displays, the positioning of a piece of glass and the way the light fell on it, or the way a glass-beaded scarf was draped across a hanger. He was a quiet, ever-smiling presence and if you found him ruminating in this way, he was always one to stop, to talk, and ask you how you were.

Read more →

CMoG Keeps You Busy: Things You Can Do at Home

Are you at home and in need of new sources of inspiration? Have you already exhausted your to-do list of house projects, cleaned the kitchen multiple times, finished several books, and asked everyone you know what’s good on Netflix? Well, don’t worry, The Corning Museum of Glass has some fresh ideas for you and the whole family.

We’ve searched our blog archive for a selection of unique things you can do from the comfort of your own home while still practicing social distancing, so let’s see what’s on the agenda for today.

 

Perhaps it’s time you dusted off all the old Pyrex you have stored away in various cupboards and hidden in the attic and gave everything a thorough clean.

Read this blog about how to correctly clean your Pyrex collection and restore everything to its former glory. Maybe you’ll want to start baking afterward!

 
Read more →