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See a One-of-a-Kind Light Show

Brighten up your day—literally—with a trip to the The Museum of American Glass.

The second week of 2012 has passed and a few things are apparent, not the least of them is just how dark it is outside. Sure, each day is staying a little lighter a little later—that’s the slow walk to springtime in action. But for a month or more we had the extra illumination of holiday lights and bright colors. By now, you might be craving for some of that as you’re driving home in the dark.

Janet Peterson, marketing and public relations director for Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center, believes she might have the cure for those dark weekend nights.

“The Museum of American Glass has over 7,000 objects on display," she said. "There is a 2:30 p.m. tour that is offered with the price of admission. Private tours are available for groups. A new exhibit opens January 13 titled, 'Pioneers of American Glass: Edris Eckhardt, Maurice Heaton, Frances and Michael Higgins.'"

The Museum of American Glass will be on it winter schedule through January, February and March, and is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. “(The museum) and museum stores are open only and we offer free admission," Peterson said. "It is an opportunity to visit the museum and stores at no cost."

There is much more to experience, and that will become available starting in April. But for right now, if you’re developing a need for color and light, The Museum of American Glass might be exactly what you’re looking for.

DAY TRIPPER DIGEST

Estimated Travel Time: 144 minutes

Why it’s Worth the Trip:  If you’re feeling that sudden seasonal shift and looking for some color and shine to brighten up things, few places will suit that need better than The Museum of American Glass.

How to Get There from Here: Detailed driving directions.

You’ll Probably Get Hungry:  You have some options when it comes to food, so consider what your budget and tastes are really looking for. The Paper Waiter restaurant and pub is closest to the Museum (while other options require a short drive), but if you’re not looking for a sit-down kind of meal, North 2nd St. and High St. have places to eat like Domino’s Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Subway. If you’re trying to skip the chain restaurants, there’s always Saigon Vietnamese, Hard Times Pizza, and the Custard Corral for a snack.

While you’re in the Area: Unfortunately, the immediate vicinity is not a shopping mecca (but having braved the crowded stores all holiday season, this might be a good thing). If you are compelled to pick up something other than an item from the Museum of American Glass gift shop, both Dick’s Sporting Goods and Wal-Mart are on North 2nd St. If your car is getting a little dodgy from the road trip, pull into Advance Auto Parts (like we said—probably a good chance you’re going to do a lot of shopping today).

Early in the 1960s, Frank H. Wheaton Jr. visited a prominent glass museum. He found that much of the early American glass on exhibit was made in southern New Jersey. This spurred on the concept that, if New Jersey is such a major manufacturer of glass, why shouldn't there be a place in New Jersey that celebrates it? In 1968, he purchased a collection of American glass from the Bucks County Glass Museum, and that acquisition started what would become the museum's collection.

As President of Wheaton Industries, today a major marketer, manufacturer and re-packager of scientific laboratory materials (like glass beakers and test tubes, thus proving Wheaton's connection to glass) Wheaton had the means by which to set his dream into motion, but the need for a permanent home for his ambitions was growing steadily apparent. In 1970, the first buildings at Wheaton Arts were completed and opened to the public.

In 1973, the T. C. Wheaton Glass Factory opened, followed shortly thereafter by the opening of the Museum of American Glass. Today, the collection has expanded to over 12,000 pieces. It is the most comprehensive exhibit of American glass in the world. Arranged in chronological order, the collection begins with glass from the first successful glass factory in America dating from 1739, to contemporary art glass.

The Glass Studio, open throughout the day from April 1 through Dec. 31, invites visitors to stop in at any time to see glass-blowing and creation in action. Three narrated shows occur daily at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. to offer insight into the process.

The Gallery of Fine Craft features contemporary crafts in all media. Shopping and strolling is free except during a special event. “People shop here all of the time because the stores have one-of-a-kind, American-made products,” Peterson said.

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