Defunct 5: The Frank Chiarenza Museum of Glass

Shattered Dreams
Meriden

RIP, mid-00’s

dm4a.jpgAstute readers and Nutmegger museum-goers know that the Frank Chiarenza Museum of Glass closed along with it’s sister Lester Dequaine Foundation museums, The Rosa Ponselle Museum and of course the National Shaving and Barbershop Museum a few years ago. But I don’t care how astute you are – no way did you know that this place contained one of the premier collections of rare and unusual mould-blown and pressed glass in the country.

Don’t lie. You don’t even know what the heck mould-blown glass is. Heck, you don’t even care. You know who does care? The NMGCS cares. They care a LOT. They LOVE Frank Chiarenza. Wait… you don’t know what the NMGCS is? You should be ashamed; that’s the National Milk Glass Collectors Society. And thanks to their 2001 convention visit to this museum, I have plenty of pictures to steal and use here.

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The NMGCSA on their way to the Frank Chiarenza Museum of Glass. I’m jealous.

I can also pad this report by lifting the following synopsis of their foray into central Connecticut: “As if the NMGCS convention wasn’t exciting enough, Frank Chiarenza and Lester Dequaine arranged for a trip to their museum. WOW! All who attended were in for a delightful experience. Frank and Lester thought of everything from a catered lunch (with outstanding chocolate cheesecake) to a guided tour, or just browse through all three museums. Time well spent.

display1.jpgYes, I said all three museums. There was, of course, Frank’s Milk Glass Museum. In a word, breathtaking. Custom made displays beautifully exhibiting some of the most unusual and rare pieces of milk glass on earth.” Awesome.

More about the collection that can no longer be seen: There were “Over 2,500 items, primarily of American (including Meriden), French and English manufacturers, are featured, including Milk Glass of various colors, in an extensive variety of dishes with figural animal covers, figural bottles, ink wells, candy containers, souvenir presentations, and Victorian novelties.”

display3.jpgHonestly, I’m not sure this would have been so exciting for me. I’ve seen glass collections before at various museums and, well, it’s just glass to me. And I’m not making fun of the NMGCS – after all, look at my hobby – crafting acceptably long reports about closed museums that I know nothing about.

I’m quite sure this was an impressive collection and the displays were probably impeccable. And Mr. Chiarenza himself looked quite natty in 2001. I’d have enjoyed learning about mould-blown glass and why people would travel from across the country to see this place. I merely had to drive 11 minutes from work one day to take a picture. Oh well.

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Frank Chiarenza himself!

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Okay, this is cool

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Comments

  1. Steve Mueller says

    Question: Is this the same Frank Chiarenza, Yale alumnus and terrific professor of Chaucer?

  2. Richard Weddell says

    Hi:

    I just wanted to say what a wonderful museum you have. I will be down to visit in the spring..

    Frank I have found 3 covered dishes, and have had very little luck in finding any information on other than they MAY have been produced by Coudersport Glass. They are Moses, A Chicken, and a Plump Duck. All have the bulrush base. If you could shed any light on these milk glass pieces I would be thankful. If I had your email address I could send you some pictures of these items.

    Thanks in advance Dick

  3. says

    I’m just amazed that Mr. Weddell somehow failed to note the word Defunct in the title, the RIP in the date and the “this place is closed” in the first sentence and throughout.

    I hope Mr. Weddell has a blast in downtown Meriden next spring regardless.

  4. Mary Salvi says

    Hello I have numerous bins of assorted milk glass for sale. Would you or anyone you know be interested in purchasing the lot thank you Frank I am Diane Jennet of Prospect Conn. cell phone 203 519 2492

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