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Famed museum becomes Mt. Pleasant counterpart's newest member

| Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

When it comes to carving out a legitimate corner in both America's realm of glass industry preservationists and beyond, it has now been said the Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum has officially arrived.

The person who recently made that claim is James Galbraith, chief librarian of the Rakow Library of The Corning Museum of Glass in Corning N.Y.

The facility, trumpeted by Galbraith as being “the foremost library on glass in the world,” recently became a member of the museum currently located at the In-Town Shops at 537 W. Main St. in the borough.

Effective Wednesday, the museum will relocate to the Mt. Pleasant Glass Center at 402 E. Main St.

“It does signify their arrival,” said Galbraith regarding the local, nonprofit organization, which celebrates the history of Mt. Pleasant's three former glass houses — Bryce Brothers, L.E. Smith and Lenox Crystal.

He added that Corning officials made the move in large part to ensure the library regularly receives a copy of “The Glassblower,” which is the Mt. Pleasant museum's quarterly newsletter.

“The Rakow Library of The Corning Museum of Glass collects resources on glass and glassmaking comprehensively. We also like to keep up with what is going on in the glass community, so we became a member and subscribed to the quarterly newsletter, which we will be adding to our collection,” Galbraith said.

“Mt. Pleasant has been the home of several well-known glass manufacturers and it wonderful to see people there are so enthusiastic about glass and preserving that history,” he added.

Anne P. Madarasz, museum division director and director of the Western PA Sports Museum at the Heinz History Center, sits on the Mt. Pleasant museum's board of directors. Corning officials initially reached out to her about becoming members.

“Corning is the premiere museum of glass in the world ... the biggest, best and most comprehensive,” Madarasz said. “I think it's important when you see that people whose job it is to preserve the story of glass see (Mt. Pleasant) as a place where new researcher scholarship may happen on the subject of glass.

“This is a validation of what's going on in Mt. Pleasant to preserve the history of glass here,” she said.

In 2011, fellow museum board member Harley N. Trice, the great-great grandson James Bryce, the founder of Bryce Brothers Glass, was invited to become one of the Fellows of The Corning Museum of Glass, he said.

“Fellows are collectors, scholars and museum professionals who have made significant contributions to the collection and study of glass,” Trice said.

The organization's objectives are to disseminate knowledge about the history and art of glassmaking and to support the acquisitions program of the museum's Rakow Research Library, according to the museum's website, cmog.org.

“I was nominated by an existing fellow, Lawrence Jessen, on the basis of work I have done in organizing exhibitions of glass from Western Pennsylvania,” Trice said.

Smaller, regional museums preserve invaluable information on the industry, and newsletters can become a means to generate new scholarship on the matter, Madarasz said.

“Memories of people who worked in those factories: that is information which might otherwise disappear as those people disappear,” she said.

That is why Cassandra Vivian, the museum's president, keeps a pen and pad close by when the facility's volunteer docents begin talking shop, she said.

“If they say something was made by someone that nobody knows about, I write it down, and I put it in the next newsletter,” Vivian said.

A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or apanian@tribweb.com.

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