In Sunshine or Rain: The Sandwich Glass Museum

Sometimes it rains when you are on vacation.  This is especially unfortunate when that vacation is a beach vacation.  After all, what is there to do at the beach in the rain?  Well, if you are lucky enough to be enjoying your beach vacation on Cape Cod, there are a great many other things to do–and the Sandwich Glass Museum should be at the top of your list.

To be fair, I’d have visited the Sandwich Glass Museum even if it hadn’t been raining–and, in fact, I had it on my itinerary long before the weather man shared his gloomy forecast.  I arrived late in the afternoon, after lunch with an amazing view at Hemisphere a mile down the road.  As I’d arrived a few minutes before the hour, I was just in time for the glass blowing demonstration, a great way to kick off your visit to the museum.

This glass blowing demonstration was everything a traveling nerd–or a young child–would want.  It was fun, it was informative, and there was fire involved.  I smiled at all of the ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaaahs’ coming from the many children in the audience, and the woman leading the demonstration did a fantastic job of keeping the kids interested and engaged.  It didn’t hurt that she had a two thousand degree furnace and a slew of cool looking metal tools at her disposal.  Of course, being the ultimate traveling geek, I took notes.  I learned the history of glass blowing and the glass press, the different methods used to create different pieces, the difference between glass and crystal, and even ‘why some glass is so very expensive’.

After the demonstration, I made my way to the multi media presentation in the theater adjacent to the glass blowing area.  The twenty minute presentation presented more than just a history of glass making on the cape–it presented a history of the cape itself.  As I visited on my first full day of my trip, it was a great introduction to Cape Cod in general.  And, as an added bonus, the presentation had some pretty cool special effects I wasn’t expecting at all.  I won’t tell you about it–I don’t want to ruin the surprise.  You’ll just have to go and see for yourself.

The museum itself is a thing of beauty.  The recent renovation took into account the fact that, well, it’s a glass museum.  And as such, it requires a lot of natural light.  I wandered through the displays, marveling at the beauty and intricacy of many of the pieces, and took way too many photos (none of which do the actual museum any justice–it’s really something you have to see in real life.)

And then, just when I thought I’d more than gotten my money’s worth (admission is only $6, and $1.25 for kids under 14), I discovered the very best part of the museum–the current special exhibit, Sandwich Redux.  Months ago, I wrote about my meal at America Eats Tavern, where modern chefs reinvented classic American dishes.  Well, this was like that–but this time, the ‘dishes’ were actual dishes.  And vases.  And whimseys, lamps, and candlesticks.  The exhibit features pairs of glass pieces–an original, antique piece next to a reinterpreted piece done by a contemporary glass artist.  My personal favorite was a reinvented candlestick created by Sidney Hutter that somehow managed to at once pay homage to the original piece and yet be completely modern in every way.  Plus it changed colors depending upon how you looked at it, which was pretty cool.

As was that case for almost everything I did on Cape Cod, I spent way more time at the Sandwich Glass Museum than I originally planned.  I’m sincerely glad I chose to have lunch first, because by the time I left, it was dinner time.  And while I did visit on a rainy day, the Sandwich Glass museum would be a great use of time even when the sun is shining.  In fact, it might be even better on a clear day, with all of that natural light streaming through the windows filled with colored glass.

My one regret is that I did not purchase one of the lovely glass sun catchers from the gift shop.  Every time I look at my empty bathroom window, I wish I had.  Ah well–there’s always next time.

The Sandwich Glass Museum is located in the heart of historic ‘downtown’ Sandwich–in quotes because, really, Sandwich is a quaint little town.  It is maybe a five minute drive from the Heritage Museum and Gardens, which also more than warrants a visit (blog post to come).  



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