Region:West Midlands

Country:United Kingdom

Stourbridge Glass Museum

“Stourbridge Glass Museum: at the heart of the community with a globally significant collection to educate and inspire” Introduction Stourbridge is to glass what Stoke-on-Trent is to pottery. For over 400 years state of the art glass in every fashionable style has been made in the Stourbridge area and Stourbridge glass is collected and admired world-wide. Foremost amongst those collections is the outstanding Dudley Glass Collection. The British Glass Foundation (Reg. charity 1139252), was formed in 2010, to find and operate a permanent new home for the Dudley Glass Collection, following Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council’s announcement of its intention to close the Collection’s then home at Broadfield House. The result is the nascent Stourbridge Glass Museum, housed in the Grade II listed former Stuart & Sons Glassworks, which has been creatively and imaginatively adapted for the purpose. Combining both permanent and temporary exhibition galleries, a hot glass making studio and a hands-on activities space for children and their families, this innovative new museum will serve regional, national and international audiences.

The Dudley Glass Collection, provides a tangible link between peoples past and present and has the power to inspire creativity and motivate artistic expression. Such is the importance and international reputation of the Collection – which the BGF ultimately intends to seek ‘designated collection’ status for – that The Victoria and Albert Museum has offered senior level specialist curatorial support to assist in its future display and the British Museum assisted by providing the support of its Head of Community Partnerships. Additional support is also being provided by DMBC in the curatorial aspects of managing the museum contents through a Museum Collections Officer.
“The very rich collections of the museum are an excellent reflection of this important part of British industrial and artistic history and they have an international standing.”
Reino Liefkes Senior Curator and Head of Ceramics and Glass V&A Museum
Numbering over 10,000 glass items ranging from ancient glass to contemporary glass, glassmaking machinery and equipment and extensive archive materials. The Dudley Glass Collection is, quite simply, one of the finest world-wide holdings of British and international 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th century glass and includes exceptional examples of cameo glass, the speciality of Stourbridge factories at the end of the 19th century.
Standing opposite the Grade II* Red House Glass Cone, one of only four remaining glass cones in Great Britain, the former Stuart glassworks were originally constructed in the 1780’s and still contain the now listed design room where Stuart’s produced the crystal glassware for the Captain’s table on the Titanic which sank in 1912. Sadly, the glass cone known as the White House glass cone, that stood on the now Museum site, was demolished in 1970 but whilst nothing of the cone remains above ground, all of the below ground structures remain and are recognised as a scheduled monument. Together, the two sites, conserve a sense of place, for Stourbridge’s glass heritage and the significant views from one to the other, contribute to their cultural significance.
Stourbridge Glass Museum Project:
Stourbridge Glass Museum will firmly re-establish the relationship between the former Stuart and Sons New House glassworks and its use, enabling visitors to engage more fully in the heritage of the site and the wider area; secure access for the public to the Dudley Glass Collection, promote cultural tourism and help continue Stourbridge’s worldwide association with glass for generations to come.

Artist’s Impression – Stourbridge Glass Museum
The museum will showcase fabulous designs and remarkable craftsmanship. It will tell the stories of how the imagination of ordinary working people helped create some of the world’s most important decorative art in the place in which they worked. It will seek to bring alive the wonder of glass through dynamic exhibitions, that push the boundaries of traditional interpretation in a visually stimulating and interactive environment that educates and inspires.
The aims and vision of the project include:
– Relocating the Dudley Glass Collection to a site within the Stourbridge Glass Quarter through the grant of a 125 lease of the museum buildings and a 125 year collection loan from Dudley MBC to the British Glass Foundation
– The operation of a new hot glass studio, with a glass artist in residence, where visitors can watch and interact as the artist blows and shapes works from molten glass
– The creation of both permanent and temporary gallery spaces within the new museum to enable the imaginative display of the Collection, to which there is currently no public access as it is being held in storage elsewhere
– Increasing and improving the interpretation of the Collection through the use of state of the art technology and innovative multi-media displays
– Establishing a handling collection, to allow visitors, particularly children to touch and feel different types and shapes of glass
– Establishing an ongoing programme of community curation, enabling volunteers (many of whom are ex-glass makers or family members of those who worked in glass making) to learn new skills including collections care and curate individual temporary displays of glass related items loaned by the community
– Enabling restoration and conservation and facilitating public access to important glass manufacturing archive material including catalogues, photographs and films
– Creating and equipping a new education and activity space, enabling the public, schools and other groups to access, learn and engage creatively and practically with the arts through the science and social history of glass and glass production
– The provision of glass related workshops and practical courses, helping to sustain the glass making skills that are an important part of the site’s heritage
– Developing the visitor potential of Stourbridge’s Glass Quarter
– Providing a showcase for and supporting the development of new and emerging contemporary glass artists
Ultimately, having established an exemplar Museum of Glass the BGF’s goals for the Museum are those of conservation, education, public participation and financial viability.
Project & Ongoing Funding:
In order to secure the future of the Dudley Glass Collection, the BGF worked closely with developers, Complex Development Projects (CDP) and DMBC, in the preparation of a successful bid for £2.1m of ERDF funding, to enable the overall redevelopment of the Glassworks site, including the development of the building which is now leased on a peppercorn rent to the BGF to house the Glass Museum. The development of the site included both residential and commercial properties. CDP subsequently gifted the benefit of the commercial leases to the BGF, to help fund the museum’s ongoing running costs.
The National Lottery Heritage Fund has granted the BGF £980,000 toward the internal fit out and exhibition design of the museum; and the BGF has worked hard to raise partnership funding for the project from trusts and foundations (successes include The Garfield Weston Foundation £50,000, The Headley Trust £35,000, The Edward Cadbury Charitable Trust £25,000, The Clive and Sylvia Richards Charity £25,000 and The Charles Hayward Foundation £20,000).
The Trustees of the British Glass Foundation will ensure the new Museum facilitates public access to the internationally significant Dudley Glass Collection and that the incredible stories and remarkable historical contributions made by ordinary people with extraordinary artistic talent are not left untold. The charity’s aim is to formally open the new museum to visitors in April 2022.
Thank you
The British Glass Foundation: :