MAD will be open on Mon, May 6.

Get the Latest News

* indicates required

A Glass Act - The Museum of Arts and Design Exhibits Pioneering Glass Jewelry from around the World in 'Glasswear: Glass in Contemporary Jewelry'

Featuring over 120 visually engaging and original creations from more than 60 artists

On View July 15 through September 20, 2009

New York, NY (April 7, 2009)

The Museum of Arts and Design presents GlassWear, an international contemporary art exhibition celebrating the marriage of two of the richest and most inventive areas in today’s decorative arts—glass and jewelry. Organized jointly by the Museum of Arts and Design and the Schmuckmuseum, Pforzheim, Germany, GlassWear will be on view at the Museum’s Tiffany & Co. Foundation Jewelry Gallery from Wednesday, July 15 until Sunday, September 20, 2009. This exhibition is made possible by Swarovski.

The exhibition displays highly innovative glass creations by the world’s leading jewelry artists, including Linda MacNeil and Robert Ebendorf (United States), Giampaolo Babetto and Giorgio Vigna (Italy), Otto Künzli and Karl Fritsch (Germany), Mieke Groot and Ruudt Peters (The Netherlands). Also included are renowned glass artists who are known for their jewelry design including Czech artists Václav Cigler, Svatopluk Kasalý and Markéta Šilená, as well as Simsa Cho from Japan.

Featuring both established and emerging artists, “GlassWear exemplifies the ongoing mission of the Museum of Arts and Design to expand the understanding and appreciation of contemporary jewelry by identifying and encouraging new and important artistic innovations,” states Holly Hotchner, the Museum’s Nanette L. Laitman Director. “This exhibition, by providing a forum for the creation of new works, will mark an important milestone in the development of contemporary jewelry and glass making,” she adds.

Ranging in appearance from the understated to the theatrical, from biting social commentary to the spirituality of pure light and color, each work in the exhibition reveals the mysterious, sensual, vibrant and reflective properties of glass. “A spirit of exploration and non-conformity pervades the jewelry in GlassWear. Time and again, these artists confirm that an object’s worth owes more to its form and artistic concept than to the preciousness of its materials,” says Ursula Ilse-Neuman, Curator of Jewelry at the Museum.

The masterful creations convey the richness of glass as a medium for jewelry and confirm the vitality of art jewelry-making worldwide. GlassWear invites viewers to consider the functions, possibilities and influences of glass as an artistic medium. In some works, novelty results from the use of new types of glass - borosilicates for thin, yet strong compositional elements and dichroic glass (containing microscopic layers of metal oxides that produce unique optical effects) and iridescent glass for intense color effects. In other works, the artists achieve innovative results by adding a twist to traditional glass materials, such as by bending pyrex rods and recycling glass fragments.

This exhibition is made possible by Swarovski, the world's leading manufacturer of cut crystal. "The Museum is grateful for our partnership with Swarovski. It is a natural continuation that began with the display of two Swarovski Crystal Palace chandeliers in the Museum's lobby, Yves Behar's "Mini Voyage" and Tord Boontje's "Blossom", when the Museum opened its new building at Columbus Circle. As a leading voice in design and manufacturing, Swarovski is an ideal partner for the Museum and our mission," states Holly Hotchner, the Museum's Nanette L. Laitman Director.

"Swarovski is delighted to have the opportunity to support the Museum of Arts and Design’s GlassWear exhibition - a remarkable presentation of glass jewelry," said Nadja Swarovski, vice president of Swarovski International Communications. "As a company that strives to continuously encourage innovation, imagination and artistry, Swarovski's support of the Museum and this exhibition is a natural partnership."


The exhibition conveys the potential of glass in jewelry through provocative concepts and masterful techniques via an eclectic mix of renowned artists and young, up-and-coming jewelers from around the world. The various roles that glass plays in each artist’s creation are organized into five distinct areas within the exhibition.

Recycled Glass

Remarkable new creations draw their primary inspiration from glass fragments or used glass objects. While some artists bring together fragments and shards to form abstract configurations, others, such as artist Piergiuliano Reveane, give new life to antique glass or others, such as Annamaria Zanella, transform industrial products into contemporary glass jewelry. Robert Ebendorf, a pioneer of the studio jewelry movement and one of the founders of the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG), reconfigures discarded and shattered glass and combines it with old photographs into playful, unconventional pendants and necklaces.

Glass as Chameleon

Glass has the ability to impersonate a variety of substances and materials, including gemstones, flowers, plants, and even liquids. Linda MacNeil makes glass a central element in her elegant and meticulously conceived jewelry, setting carved pâte de verre components in gold, silver, and industrial metals as if these non-precious bits of glass were gemstones. In her Necklace , (from the Elements Series, 2006), MacNeil uses clear, polished glass “gemstones” to draw the viewer’s attention, while traditional diamonds serve a visually supporting role.

Glass as Surface and Structure

These works of art employ glass as the main compositional element that transforms light and color into a tangible ingredient of the object. American jeweler and artist Thomas Gentille juxtaposes wood, glass and pigment against the more ethereal qualities of glass in minimalist and geometrically conceived brooches. In Brooch (2007), Gentille combines yellow enameled industrial glass embedded in light maple wood, melding geometric form and surface treatment.

Glass as Symbol and Metaphor

Glass is rich in metaphoric potential—it can be transparent, opaque, flashy or unfathomable; it can be molded, cast, cut and polished, or fractured—the same expression used to describe people and personalities. Glass also embodies the paradoxical combination of fragility and hardness that makes it a highly suitable metaphor for the complexity of bodies, structures, society, or even the transience of life itself. In The Treasure of Memory (2000), American-born Michael Petry has created a colossal 50-foot string of beach-ball sized glass beads that permits the viewer to see the familiar necklace from in an entirely new light. Petry’s necklace will be suspended from the ceiling of the Museum lobby, spanning from one to the other side of the room.

Glass as Glass

GlassWear also addresses traditional uses of glass in jewelry, as well as the medium’s inherent properties—refracted and reflected light, color, and transparency. Giorgio Vigna bridges the worlds of art, design, and fashion in his theatrical Gorgoglio neckpiece (2002) of blown glass bubbles. Drawing from his country’s long tradition in glassworking, he created his blown Gorgoglio at the renowned Venini glasshouse on the island of Murano. The necklace’s multitude of transparent blue glass bubbles produce light refractions and reflections that challenge the wearer to match the ornament’s flamboyance and energy.


A press preview, conducted by Ursula Ilse-Neuman, Curator of Jewelry, will be held Tuesday, July 14, from 10 am to 12 noon. For press reservations, call 212.299.7713 or send an email to


In conjunction with the exhibition, the Museum will organize jewelry making demonstrations in its Open Studios, residences for jewelry artists, workshops, lectures and international symposia, screenings of videos of artist’s at work studio visits, and programs for children and families. Many programs will be made available on-line as well as on-site.


GlassWear is made possible by Swarovski.

The exhibit is co-organized by the Museum of Arts and Design, New York and Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim, and is made possible, in part, through additional support from the Mondriaan Foundation, Amsterdam; the Karma Foundation; and the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass.

GlassWear opened at the Toledo Museum of Art in November 2007. After its showing at the Museum of Arts and Design, GlassWear will open at the Mobile Museum of Art in Mobile AL, October 2, 2009 – January 3, 2010.


A full-color illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition. Published by Arnoldsche Verlagsanstalt, Stuttgart, the 200-page bilingual publication includes color plates of work by each artist along with scholarly essays by Museum of Arts and Design Curator and catalogue editor Ursula Ilse-Neuman, Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim Director/Curator Cornelie Holzach, and Curator of Glass at the Toledo Museum of Art, Dr. Jutta-Annette Page.


In 1895, Daniel Swarovski I, a Bohemian inventor and visionary, moved to the village of Wattens, Tyrol in Austria, with his newly-invented machine for cutting and polishing crystal jewelry stones. From this beginning that revolutionized the fashion world, Swarovski has grown to be the world’s leading producer of precision-cut crystal, for fashion, jewelry and more recently lighting, architecture and interiors. Today, the company, still based in Wattens, family-owned and run by 4th and 5th generation family members, has a global reach, with some 23.900 employees, a presence in over 120 countries and a turnover in 2008 of 2.52 billion Euros.

Swarovski crystal components, known by their product brand names CRYSTALLIZED™ - Swarovski Elements for fashion and STRASS® Swarovski® Crystal for architecture and light, have become an essential ingredient of international design. Since 1965 the company has also catered to the fine jewelry industry with precision-cut genuine and created gemstones, and from April 2008 has strengthened this relationship by revitalizing and renaming the product brand ENLIGHTENED™ - Swarovski Elements.

Showing the creativity that lies at the heart of the company, Swarovski’s own-brand lines of accessories, jewelry and home décor are sold through more than 1,600 retail outlets in all major fashion capitals. The exclusive Daniel Swarovski accessories collection has meanwhile become the company’s couture signature. The Swarovski Crystal Society has close to 350,000 members worldwide, keen collectors of the celebrated crystal figurines. In Wattens, Swarovski Kristallwelten, the multi-media crystal museum, was opened in 1995, as a celebration of Swarovski’s universe of innovation and inspiration. The Swarovski corporation also includes Tyrolit®, manufacturing grinding tools, Swareflex, for road safety reflectors and Swarovski Optik, producing precision optical instruments.


The Museum of Arts and Design explores how craftsmanship, art, and design intersect in the visual arts today. The Museum focuses on contemporary creativity and the ways in which artists and designers from around the world transform materials through processes ranging from the handmade to cutting edge technologies.

The Museum’s exhibition program explores and illuminates issues and ideas, highlights creativity and craftsmanship, and celebrates the limitless potential of materials and techniques when used by creative and innovative artists. MAD’s permanent collection is global in scope and focuses on art, craft, and design from 1950 to the present day.

At the center of the Museum’s mission is education. The Museum’s dynamic new facility features classrooms and studios for master classes, seminars, and workshops for students, families and adults. Three open artist studios engage visitors in the creative processes of artists at work and enhance the exhibition programs. Lectures, films, performances and symposia related to the Museum’s collection and topical subjects affecting the world of contemporary art, craft and design are held in a renovated 150-seat auditorium.


Get Updates from MAD

* indicates required
Let us know if you're interested in: