Glorious Glass at Sunderland Museum

Nestled on the first floor, between the main staircase and the other galleries, lie the six cabinets which constitute the bulk of the Glorious Glass exhibit at the Sunderland Museum.

Each cabinet is themed. One relates to friggers, i.e. glass novelties that were often made at the end of the day to use up left over glass. Three contain pressed glass produced in Sunderland, one cabinet is dedicated to Jobling art glass, whilst the other two are packed with pieces from manufacturers such as Henry Greener, Eunson & Scurr and Matthew Turnbull. The final two cabinets are dedicated to etched glass, one contains the Londonderry suite and the other various pieces of etched glass work.

The space in between the cabinets has been utilised to provide tactile elements, appealing to children. These consist of pieces of textured glass and an iron mould.

The panel displays are informative, providing information relating to the manufacturing processes of pressed and etched glass, a brief history of Jobling glass, the back story of the Londonderry suite and an explanation of different friggers, which included dumps, hitchy dobbers and walking canes.

The information panel for the pressed glass displays include a list of registration numbers with numbered coloured stickers, to enable visitors to identify the pieces in the cabinets. Unfortunately the cabinets were so crowded it was not always clear which piece of glass the coloured disc related to. Furthermore, several of the registrations listed were either not present in the display or had not been numbered.

The emphasis of the Glorious Glass collection is on the glass objects themselves, with little to no information relating to the history of glass production in Sunderland, e.g. the extensive bottle, plate or crown works, nothing on laboratory equipment or the borosilicate glass produced by Pyrex. However, all of this information has been produced, in conjunction with Sunderland Museum, but the displays are at the National Glass Centre on the other side of the river. Maybe the anniversary exhibition, planned for 2022, will bring it all together. I do hope so!

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