Shining Bright: Glass in New Lights

By: Amalia Wojciechowski, assistant director and collections curator on June 5th, 2024

Last Friday night, coworkers Matt Foss, Holly Van Eperen, and I made our way over to the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum in Neenah. We were hot on the trail of another Woodson Art Museum export — Molten: 30 Years of American Glass. The exhibition, which debuted at the Woodson Art Museum in spring 2022, will be on view at the Bergstrom-Mahler from May 31 – August 11, and features fifty plus artworks from the Woodson’s permanent collection.

A timeline on a wall with several pedestals with glass artworks on them.

The American Studio Art Glass timeline re-imagined at the Bergstrom-Mahler.

Both the exhibition and the Bergstrom-Mahler hold personal importance to me. Not only was Molten the first exhibition I organized here at the Woodson, but the Bergstrom-Mahler has several family connections — I went there often with my grandmother who lived nearby in Menasha, and my mother, back in the 1960s, took some of her very first art classes there. I was delighted, then, to be asked to make a few opening remarks at the Bergstrom-Mahler’s members’ opening event on Friday, introducing the exhibition as well as giving a brief history of the objects and their introduction into the Woodson’s collection.

A woman standing at a podium talking in front of an audience

Giving some short remarks in front of the crowd

As an exhibition, Molten focuses on the first thirty or so years of the American Studio Glass movement. The movement, begun in the 1960s by artists like Harvey Littleton, has deep ties to Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin-Madison became the site for the first graduate program for glassmaking, fostering glass artists like Dale Chihuly, Fritz Dreisbach, and Marvin Lipofsky, all of whom feature in the exhibition. It’s only appropriate, then, that the first stop of Molten’s tour takes place in Wisconsin. One of the joys of organizing a traveling exhibition is seeing its fresh iterations in unfamiliar spaces, allowing you, as an organizer, to see the objects in a new light, both literally and figuratively! In this regard, as in all others, the Bergstrom-Mahler knocked it out of the park (but only metaphorically — we are talking about glass here, after all).

Along with being partners in Wisconsin Art Destinations, we know Molten’s opening at the Bergstrom-Mahler marks the continuation of a beautiful friendship.

Psst… they have a Birds in Glass exhibition also open in case you needed yet one more reason to make a trip!

Four glass artworks in a case at the Bergstrom-Mahler

Four of the Molten Studio Art Glass objects on display at the Bergstrom-Mahler.

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