|Murano is a group of islands in the Venetian Lagoon
near Venice, Italy. Murano and Venice have been important
centers of glass production for more than one thousand
years. There, artisans have supported a tradition of quality
glassmaking that dates back to Roman times. After a devastating
fire, Venetian officials decreed in 1291 that all the
glass furnaces would be removed from the city of Venice
and relocated to the less-populated Murano. Craftsmen
developed unsurpassed glass techniques and recipes, and
glass production in Murano flourished.
Until the 1500s, Murano glass had little market competition,
as its recipes and techniques were held as trade secrets.
Eventually, however, artisans in other countries acquired
the technical know-how. Regional styles and markets soon
developed outside Murano, offering less expensive alternatives
to the Italian products. As a result of market competition
and political forces, the glass industry in Murano eventually
declined in both quality and output.
Murano glassmaking experienced a revival during the 1850s
and 1860s, and new glass furnaces opened on the island.
In 1861, the Glass Museum of Murano was founded as a school
of design. Examples of historic glassware became study
models that inspired glassmakers to emulate and reclaim
once-famous styles and techniques.
By 1910, progressive artists and designers who challenged
traditional styles began to work with the glassmakers
in Murano. The lively interaction between artists and
craftsmen nurtured an inventive spirit that developed
and revitalized the industry.
Appointing leading artists and designers to head the
workshops fostered invention. During architect Carlo
Scarpa’s twenty-year tenure at the Venini workshops, he
resurrected long forgotten techniques and glass formulas.
His simple vessels became a standard for international
design throughout the twentieth century. Work designed by
architects Tomaso Buzzi, Gae Aulenti, Ludovico Diaz de
Santillana, Massimo Vignelli, and Ettore Sottsass are
displayed along with vessels created by painters and
designers such as Vittorio Zecchin, Tapio Wirkkala, Dino
Martens, and Laura Diaz de Santillana. Drawn from the
collection of Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu, these
stunning works are among the finest examples of Murano
glass in the world.