By Patty Clark
Ames 247 Staff Writer
Brunnier Art Museum showcases glass to brighten up the entrance hallway of the museum.
A few years ago, students entering the Brunnier Art Museum would have been greeted by the museum store, but they are now introduced to a few exhibitions that show off different techniques of glass making. Each individual case has a different story. The glass is put together in different ways, and the cases show a historical timeline of how glass works developed. Two of the exhibitions are titled “Age of Brilliance” and “French Art Nouveau.”
“Age of Brilliance” contains 29 different glass objects. It represents a time in history called the American Brilliant Age, which took place between 1876-1914, before pressed glass. It began when several different American glass companies started to create glass pieces by creating them all by hand and using a metal wheel or rotating stone to make a geometric pattern. The traditions came from Europe and each piece had a pattern name.
“If you made a mistake, you had to start over,” said Allison Sheridan, coordinator at University Museums.
The cut glass soon became symbolic of social status and was mainly purchased by those who had a lot of wealth.
“Things like sugar dishes, coffee pots and little dishes you would put condiments in, all of sudden you put it in cut glass so you had money,” Sheridan said, “and each piece is one of a kind. We know of two that were made, and we only know of one that exists.”
“French Art Nouveau“ is a selection of French cameo glass and tapestry that shows a variety of imagery and techniques, and captures the early 20th century art nouveau movement. The movement itself occurred in France first and then came to the United States.
“Things like when you’re in Paris and you see the Metropolitan sign, that’s all art nouveau. That style, there’s architecture, there’s decorative arts, there’s fashion that goes along with it,” Sheridan said. “There was a lot going on with organic forms, nature, shapes that are fluid.”
Sheridan also noted that French Art Nouveau involved organic forms, nature and shapes.
“There are pinpoints on the glass which makes them really sparkle, or shine, or pop, and I think that’s what first draws people in,” Sheridan said about the art. “It’s either the color or the sparkle, and then once they get there, you captivate them by the detail of the object.”
The whole collection of glass pieces has the purpose of “showcasing some of the rock stars in our collection,” Sheridan said. The exhibits have been up for around a year and half; they will change approximately every two years.