By Katie James
April 04, 2015
Corning Glass Museum interior gallery
Credit: Iwan Baan

If you’ve ever been captivated by the art of glassblowing, it may be time to start planning a trip to Corning, New York.

The Corning Museum of Glass—built in 1951 and designed by legendary American architect Wallace K. Harrison—is wrapping up a $64M expansion. The museum’s new Contemporary Art + Design Wing, which opens to the public on March 20, will feature 26,000 square feet of gallery space, as well as one of the world’s largest facilities for glassblowing demonstrations and live glass design sessions. Here, visitors can peer in on a 20-minute hot glass demonstration from the space’s new 500-seat amphitheater.

Perhaps more exciting, though, is that the museum’s new wing, designed by architect Thomas Phifer, is something of an intricate work of art in itself. From the outside, it looks like a glass cube in the middle of a lawn (part of a new campus designed by landscape architecture firm Reed Hilderbrand Associates), with an exterior comprised of white glass panels made opaque with a layer of silicone. The all-glass ceiling features diffusing skylights to showcase the gallery below—a novel move for museums, which typically eschew natural light in order to protect the works on display.

Inside, the contemporary gallery—all undulating, white walls and concrete floors—will feature more than 70 works from the museum’s permanent collection, as well as large-scale installations of recent acquisitions. Be sure to check out Kiki Smith’s 1996 Constellation, which resembles a night sky scattered with glass animals representing star clusters like Ursa Major, Scorpius, and Aries.

The Corning Museum of Glass is located in the Finger Lakes Wine Country region, a four-hour drive from Manhattan.

Katie James is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @kjames259.