Monday, October 01, 2012

Bergstrom-Mahler and Its Paperweights

Sept 9, 2012

Whenever I see glasswork that's a few centuries old -- and that's always in a museum -- I wonder, how could those items survive that long? Maybe they could under the care of a museum, but the likes of  enameled beakers, covered goblets and engraved tumblers from 17th- and 18th-century Germany (for example) were made to be used, even if they were expensive items in their time. Gravity has been continuous every moment since then, and so has the unpredictable motion of people, animals or waves of energy, such as when your city is bombed.

The Bergstrom-Mahler Museum in Neenah, Wisconsin, has some fine examples of centuries-old Germanic glassware, all clearly survivors of time and random motion. It also features interesting newer glass as well, plus temporarily exhibits. And then there's the paperweight collection, which includes more than 3,000 objects: whirls of color and shapes embedded in glass globes.

I've only ever seen its like once before, the Arthur Rubloff paperweight collection at the Art Institute of Chicago (1,500+ objects). I understand Rubloff gallery has been expanded recently after some years mostly in storage, but I remember when some of the paperweights were exhibited near the front of the museum.

Paperweight collecting sounds eccentric, and maybe it is, but there are some astonishingly beautiful paperweights in the world, if the Bergstrom-Mahler collection is any indication. Click on the
for a better view, but photos displayed on line really don't do the three-dimensional, well-lit objects much justice.

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