Nestled in the Fingerlakes region of New York state is a family-friendly gem.
I should preface this by noting that we had just spent ten days doing the “history tour” up the east coast. My four boys had been in the car most of that ten days. We were due in Toronto for a family gathering in the evening, and found ourselves several hours ahead of schedule. The kids needed a break; the parents needed a break. An exhibit on torture devices would have been a welcome relief.
So, tearing frantically through tour guides, we found what we needed. It was amazing.
The Corning Museum of Glass, in Corning, New York, is the showpiece of Corning, Inc., the glass company. Anyone get the symmetry? Corning has pulled out all the stops—the “museum” houses several exhibits of glass art, yes, but it is much more than that (Even the art exhibits are way cool. My kids actually liked them. Their favorite piece: a lampwork chessboard that has rabbis for black and bishops for white. Who says corporate America doesn’t have a sense of humor?).
There is an excellent scientific and technical display, with hands-on exhibits for the children, covering the past, present, and future of glass. For homeschooling parents who live in the area, this is a great field trip.
The fun doesn’t end there. The glass blowing show features master glass-blowers, and a humorous announcer who explains what they’re doing in kid-friendly language. To make it even more interesting for the little ones, they hold a contest, inviting kids to draw something for the glass-blowers to make. They choose one for each show, and the lucky kid gets to take the result home. We still have the M&M-shooting cannon that one of my kids drew to challenge the masters.
If the kids are still holding it together, take them to the workshops, and let them blow their own glass or create their own glass fusion art. Extra fees apply, but they are very reasonable. Where else can a kid blow his own bottle? You can also tour the workshops and watch lampworkers and other artists ply their trades (beware—you may have to explain to your kids why they can’t have a glass furnace at home).
To complete the family-friendly nature of this great attraction, children under 19 get in free.
We had to pry our kids out and back into the car.
The Mother is the parent of four boys, ages 13 to 20. She blogs about the people who make mothers’ lives miserable (including, on occasion, the children) at www.mothershandbook.net