Out & About: Montshire Museum exhibit is a glass act

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    The Montshire Museum of Science worked with glassmaker Simon Pearce on the exhibit "Elements of Glass" which is on display now. (Montshire Museum of Science photograph) Montshire Museum of Science photograph

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    The scuplture "Wood" is one of the pieces included in the exhibit "Elements of Glass," which is a collaborative effort between the Montshire Museum of Science and glassmaker Simon Pearc. (Montshire Musuem of Science photograph)

Valley News Calendar Editor
Published: 9/28/2019 10:06:48 PM
Modified: 9/28/2019 10:06:45 PM

The Montshire Museum of Science and Simon Pearce have combined forces for a new exhibit that implores visitors to think about the natural elements used to create glass.

“Elements of Glass” is up now and will be on display through the spring. It features sculptures representing water, fire and wood made by glassblowers from the Windsor-based studio.

“We thought it would be intriguing for the public and kids to experience how glass is this transformation from sand to these objects that you live with,” said James Murray, senior vice president of design and product development at Simon Pearce. It is the first time the glassmaker has partnered with a museum for an exhibit.

The main ingredients in glass — sand, soda and lime — viewed side by side with sculptures display the contrast between raw materials and the finished product.

“We’re trying to really bring out the science in their process,” said Sherlock Terry, director of exhibits at the Montshire. “This is a really good thing that people have an entry into in terms of scientific understanding.”

The exhibit allows visitors to gain “appreciation for something that’s around them all the time,” said Katie Kalata Rusch, exhibits developer and project coordinator at the Montshire, adding that she is now more aware of how many everyday items use glass. “I realized just how omnipresent it is.”

Glass goes beyond the drinking vessels in your kitchen cabinet or your bathroom mirror. It can also be found in fiber-optic cables, some household insulation, medical equipment and the ubiquitous digital screens we interact with every day.

“Our entire internet is run by glass,” Kalata Rusch said.

Glass is an amorphous solid, which means that it does not have a defined shape. This allows it to be molded into different objects for different uses.

“It’s amazing how many shapes glass can take,” Terry said.

The sketches of each sculpture are also nearby, so visitors can see how the process evolved from a two-dimensional idea to a three-dimensional object.

“I think it captures a sense of wonder about glass and also portraying some of the elements of nature,” Murray said.

The water sculptures contain bubbles, meant to represent bubbling water. Glassblowers used etching on the wood sculptures to mimic trees in a forest. Twisted pieces of glass come together to create flames in fire sculptures.

“I really like how the branch representing wood turned out,” Murray said. “It just has a lot of flair and unique character that’s different from what we do every day.”

Like every Montshire exhibit, “Elements of Glass” features a hands-on portion. Smaller versions of each sculpture are nearby for visitors to touch.

“They’re allowed to investigate,” Terry said, noting that there’s also a video showing the glass artists at work. “It’s a very powerful exhibit. It tells a story.”

The creators hope that children and adults of all ages will learn something new from the exhibit and be reminded of how science plays a role in everyday life.

“I think in this day and age, we’ve lost touch with how objects come about,” Murray said. “It’s another way to reflect on nature and have some sensitivity to nature and awareness of our resources.”

Editor’s note: For more information about “Elements of Glass” and Montshire admission rates, visit montshire. org, call 802-649-2200 or email montshire@montshire.org. Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.

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