Pavilion’s Glass Artworks Reflect The Times

Part of the Toledo Museum of Art, the new exhibit has hosted 30,000 visitors from around the world. Best of all, it’s free.

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If you’ve ever been involved with a moving project, consider the situation Jutta Page and the rest of the staff at the Toledo Museum of Art were in last spring and summer when they transferred the museum’s collection of glass art across the street to the museum’s new Glass Pavilion building.

They had to pack, move and put in place 7,000 pieces of rare and ancient glass, some of which were irreplaceable and worth thousands of dollars, in time for the Glass Pavilion’s grand opening Aug. 27.

“It was a big move,” recalls Page, curator of the Glass Pavilion. The 76,000-square-foot building, which has two floors, was designed by architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of Tokyo, Japan. The structure cost about $30 million and was paid for with private donations and endowments established through the museum.

Glass was an important economic commodity in Toledo during the early part of the 20th century, when factories such as Libbey Glass Co. produced glass tableware. Since the owner of Libbey Glass Co., Edward Drummond Libbey founded the Toledo Museum of Art, it must have seemed appropriate to build a world-class exhibit mainly out of glass. The outside walls and many of the interior walls of the Glass Pavilion are made entirely of glass, while steel structures support the roof and interior.

The Glass Pavilion showcases glass pieces from antiquity to present, says Page.

“We ask groups to tell us what they like best,” she says. “Some react strongly to pieces from 3,500 years ago. They can’t imagine how such pieces survive.” Other people, she adds, are fascinated by Baroque pieces and contemporary glass work.

Still in its infancy, the Glass Pavilion has attracted 30,000 people from the United States, Europe, the Czech Republic, Japan and South America. The Museum is doing its best to keep up with the demand.

“We have had to expand the docent program for bookings scheduled through next spring,” says Page.

Since the Toledo Museum of Art opened in December 1901, it has collected more than 30,000 works of art, including paintings and sculptures by Cezanne, Cole, Degas, Gainsborough, Holbein, Kiefer, Miro, Monet, Picasso, Rembrandt, Rubens and van Gogh. Asian pieces are also part of the collection.

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