Glass Art History and Museum Collection


In this symposium, four glass museums were presented to the audience. From public to private, from classical to contemporary, from professional museum position to cross-broader experiment – a precious opportunity was offered to look at the museum glass world from different angles.

Jenny Tsai

Associate Director of Liuli China Museum


Academic Research Manager of Shanghai Museum of Glass


Head of the Glass Studio of Shanghai Polytechnic University


Director of Museum JAN


  1. Jenny TSAI

Chinese glass has more than 3000 years of history and is one of the pillars of Chinese cultural heritage. The founders of Liuli China museum believe that “to know the past is to know the future.” Thus, a unique collection of ancient Chinese Liuli Artifacts with a span 2500 years of history can be found here.

In her speech, Ms. TSAI also talked about the rediscovery of the lost-wax casting method in France in the 19th century. This rediscovery not only made an impact on glass art in Europe, but also on Chinese contemporary glass art.

Contemporary glass art exhibitions are also held in the museum, with artworks from both local and international masters. Integrating the past with the present, Liuli China Museum displays and promotes the Chinese glass art to all over the world.

  • Maartje BRATTINGA

Rijksmuseum is one of the top ten greatest museums worldwide and owns an impressive historical glass collection. This collection showcases glass art from the middle age to the 20th century.

Ms. Maartje BRATTINGA’s emphasis was on historical engraved glasses. Glasses with calligraphic engravings were very popular among the nobles in the 17th century Netherlands and the ROEMERS VISSCHER sisters were pioneers in this field. Besides lettering, their engravings on glass also include flowers and insects.

One of the engravings from Anna ROEMERS VISSCHER showed a special technique: dots were applied in an engraving to simulate light and shadow. This technique became more popular in the 18th century, which can be seen from the artworks of Frans GREENWOOD, Aert SCHOUMAN and David WOLFF. These artists used only dots, instead of lines, to vividly express light and shadow in their engravings.

  • Xin YANG

Shanghai Museums of Glass was established only nine years ago, but has already received great attention from the industry. Ms. Xin YANG’s sharing focused on a cross-border art collaboration project “Annealing”.

Started in 2015, this project invites contemporary artists to create glass artworks every year, resulting in a series of surprising works for both the audience and the industry. The project aims to explore a fusion of glass art and contemporary art. In the meantime, it also became an important factor in building collection system and exhibition planning.

In order to better document the “Annealing” project and the collections in the museum, an archive center was established in 2019. In 2020, a retrospective exhibition “work from the cloud” was held, which celebrated the 5-year anniversary of “Annealing” project and showcased the unlimited possibilities of glass art.

  • Marike UILDRIKS

Ms. Marieke UILDRIKS’ speech is on the history, the glass collection and the future plans of Museum JAN. The glass collection (approximately 180 items) at Museum JAN in Amstelveen is unique in the Netherlands. The museum collection was started by industrialist and collector Jan VAN DER TOGT, who in 1991 founded this museum, and later developed by the museum director Jan VERSCHOOR. Czechoslovak glass art and contemporary Dutch glass art are the two main focuses of the museum’s collection.

In addition to its unique glass collection, Museum JAN organizes approximately 3 large and 3 small exhibitions every year. The exhibitions cover a broad range of disciplines including paintings, sculptures and glass art. Started from a private foundation, Museum Jan has received more and more support from local companies and organizations. It has become part of the city property.

Q & A (Selected):

  • 17th century was also the heyday for REMBRANDT’s etchings. When observing the technique of dots on glass engravings, one can find a connection between REMBRANDT’s etching and the glass art. So, the question is: is there also a connection between contemporary glass art and other contemporary artforms?

Ms. Maartje BRATTINGA explained that the source of inspiration of dots from Anna ROEMERS VISSCHER’s glass engraving is unknown. But as this technique later developed, there should have been a link with the development of printing. Nowadays, however, the material or the technique themselves are becoming less important.

  • Is there a typical Chinese contemporary glass art?

Ms. Jenny Tsai answered that she found some similarities between Chinese and British contemporary glass art, for artists from both countries are fascinated by the inner space of the glass and the techniques that can be developed from it. When it comes to studio glass, lost-wax casting method is very helpful for the contemporary artistic expression. While in Chinese art academies, glass casting is a main technique for glass art.

  • How do museums acquire artworks and what are the criteria?

Ms. Marieke UILDRIKS replied that in the past, the collection from JAN Museum was mainly by donation. Now they also wish to expand their collection with artworks from new young talents.