Antiques and the Arts Weekly
Under the direction of NBMOG executive director Kirk J. Nelson, extensive renovations begun last November have transformed 4,000 square feet of factory space at the Wamsutta Mill Complex into a glittering crystal palace.
More than 1,000 examples of the glassmaker’s art are now housed in 50 monumental display cases at the new facility. Collection highlights include a core-formed Eastern Mediterranean unguent bottle dating to 600 BC, a diamond-point engraved Dutch wine glass, circa 1690, Eighteenth Century English tableware, rarities in early American blown and pressed glass, marbles and paperweights, cup plates, pattern glass, art glass by Tiffany and Steuben, carnival and depression-era glass and studio glass by Chihuly, Littleton, Sautner and other leading artists.
The special exhibition gallery presents more than 300 examples of vaseline glass donated to NBMOG in 2009 from the extensive collection of Carol D. and Richard M. Bacik.
Prominently featured at the entryway to the museum is a cut glass armchair in the style of glass furniture made during the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries by F. & C. Osler of Birmingham, England. This glass was displayed at many international exhibitions. It furnished the palaces of several Indian potentates and was featured in a special exhibition at the Corning Museum of Glass in 2006.
Many displays at the new museum incorporate glass from the collection of the Bennington (Vt.) Museum. Beehive and lily pad glass, paperweights by Sandwich glassmaker Nicholas Lutz, a unique blown-three-mold candlestick made from a decanter stopper, one of two known Pittsburgh creamers marked R.B. Curling & Sons, pressed Sandwich openwork compotes and pillar-molded glass in emerald, cobalt, amethyst and canary.
These and many other beautiful examples are from the 7,000-piece collection started in Bennington in the 1920s. The collection comes to New Bedford on a five-year loan while the Bennington Museum reorganizes its galleries.
Also on view at the new museum are outstanding examples of New Bedford-made glass from the famous Mount Washington and Pairpoint factories. This glass includes attractive and ornate Victorian lines such as amberina, lava glass, peachblow, Burmese, Crown Milano and Royal Flemish, decorated glass by the Smith Brothers firm of New Bedford, reverse-painted Pairpoint lamps and blown ware made at the close of the last local glass factory in 1957.
Also on view is the museum’s 6-foot-tall glass press, a collection of iron molds, blowpipes and other tools, a Nineteenth Century glass engraver’s lathe and even the award medal won by the Mount Washington Glass Company at the Centennial Exhibition in 1876.
The museum gift shop is already open to the public and offers both new and old glass as well as an extensive selection of glass reference books. The museum’s research library, which features more than 6,000 publications on the subject of glass, is open by appointment. The main glass collection galleries are expected to open informally to the public in early August.
Museum and shop hours are 10 am to 5 pm, Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 pm on Sunday. The location is just off the Route 18 connector between I-195 and downtown New Bedford, at 61 Wamsutta Street. The building is shared with the New Bedford Antiques Center.
For more information, 508-984-1666 or www.nbmog.org .