Glass products, whose predecessors have been conceived centuries ago, can still be found everywhere. As I am a retail worker, I grow rather tired of all the accidents rendered from this shatter prone material, plastic substitutes being a much safer alternative. So, when I hear that a museum in Neenah, Wisconsin has a sole focus on glass, I’m astounded to find that some featured relics have survived hundreds of years.
The name of the Museum is Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass. It began with a simple past time spurned by childhood memories, as Evangeline Bergstrom collected antique paperweights. Her collection grew so extensive that it was featured at the Art Institute of Chicago. Today it has found a home, inside the house she resided in, as part of the Museum, her collections and her home donated to the community.
There have been plenty of acquisitions since. Some of the Exhibits are sheer artistic creations, others are decorative pieces that served purposes. Combined, these exhibits make for a one of a kind visit.
I follow my GPS through the downtown of Neenah and find the emerald shore of Lake Winnebago. Here the Museum lies across from a gorgeous park, the Tudor Style building looking unassuming amidst its Stately companions lined on this street. I’m enchanted on this comfortable late summer day.
I traipse through the doors of the Museum, where a gift shop is waiting to my right. However, before I get to far, I notice a chalkboard sign with a message. Writing maybe visual, yet the tones of the board are music to my ears. Bergstrom-Mahler is free, always!
There is a lady set to greet me behind a small counter. She recites a brief history of the museum and informs me of the lay out of the exhibits. There is enough for two floors.
As I walk the center hall, I’m already delighted. Beautiful glass creations, cut, stained, painted and arranged greet my eyes. Off to my right, protected in glass cases, sit my favorite exhibits of the museum.
They’re goblets, glasses and more from the 16th century on. The collection is mainly German and Bohemian. I’m dazzled by goblets with detailed etchings and gold inlays that date back to the 1700’s. Older still, a fairly crude hand painted glass dates back to 1580. It’s seems almost impossible, but in 438 years no one has ever dropped this piece.
I cross over into a room with some amazing and more recent art, a fairly new donation to the museum, decorates an exhibit room. I’m really enjoying myself.
As I make it to the second floor, I find a boardroom with the coolest light fixtures imaginable. There’s paperweights and more interesting art. At one end of the Boardroom is this collage of glasswork.
As I make my way back downstairs, I find more paperweights. I’m not overly thrilled by paperweights, but they are interesting works of art. The glass art can be found here again.
I discover that Bergstrom-Mahler offers fusing and flame-working classes. After taking their classes you can use their studio. As I mentioned earlier, there is also a cool gift shop.
I really got a high from looking at these glass pieces, especially the ancient dishes of Germany and Bohemia. I spent about an hour in the place. If you’re into art or old glasswork, check it out I think you’ll be glad you did.