Museum of American Cut & Engraved Glass
472 Chestnut Street, Highlands, NC, USA
www.ashevilleguidebook.com/w… - (828) 526 3427
Museum of American Cut & Engraved Glass Highlands Reviews
Brilliant! Nov 29, 2014
I am a total sucker for roadside attractions. Researching things to do around Highlands I became intrigued by the Museum of American Cut & Engraved Glass. The lure was learning you needed to schedule an appointment, but there was no admission charge? That was a bit unusual. Deeper research led to understanding the collection highlighted glass pieces from 1876-1916, the “Brilliant” period for this art. Well, that was enough for me to conclude this would make for a brilliant investigation, so I called the number.
George, the museum’s founder and curator, answered the phone and after a pleasant conversation we agreed to rendezvous at 3PM the Friday after Thanksgiving. Alas, nobody showed to meet me so I called again. George phoned me back a few hours afterwards; deeply apologizing for missing the appointment (had been entertaining friends in town for the holiday). George graciously offered to run down immediately, but we re-scheduled for the following morning.
Well, an enjoyed exploration. The museum is a rustic two story log cabin, wonderfully at odds with the huge collection of elegant glassware within. Consisting of numerous cases housing pieces George and his wife amassed over many years (George’s wife passed away several years ago), it did not prove to be the snooze fest I feared. Each case has a separate light switch, and after illuminating the next one on, George would explain the contents. There was a lot of interesting nuance which kept the tour from being repetitive. Manufacturing techniques, technological advancements over the period, variety of pieces (there is a toupee stand in the collection!) and even details around forgeries that popped up in the 1980’s (current collector’s regularly use light scans to measure lead content as the fakes have markedly less, though there really is no way to discern by sight alone).
Speaking of lead content, the “Brilliant” period ended when WWI geared up. The essential ingredient was re-directed to manufacturing bullets and with its scarcity, the glory days ended. One of many interesting tidbits over the two hour tour. George had expressed the tour would take 1-1/2 hours unless I had a lot of questions, so spot on. I would be remiss in not stressing what a wonderful host George was. After the brief overview of each case, George politely stood aside to answer questions, allowing me to set the pace. There was not a hint of remorse if I saw nothing of interest and quickly moved on.
George has set the museum up as a non-profit and is trying to raise sufficient funds to bequest a legacy to satisfy maintenance expense after he is gone. To this end, the last two cases showcase pieces offered for sale (proceeds to the museum), but there was no sales pitch at all. I had noticed a small sign expressing donations were accepted, so I did contribute as a thank you for a pleasant time.
Part of the North Carolina travel blog
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