Big changes are in store for the Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum as it gears up to expand its space at the Mt. Pleasant Glass Center while implementing a membership drive in the upcoming year.
“We had a very successful first year in our new space, and we’re excited to expand to incorporate more donations of glass as well as administrative areas,” said Cassandra Vivian, president of the museum board and current manager.
The museum, which celebrated its first year in the Mt. Pleasant Glass Center this August, previously split its permanent space equally with Mt. Pleasant glass craftsman Peter O’Rourke. Originally from Ireland, O’Rourke used his half to house his business O’Rourke Cut Glass and Gifts. As part of the expansion, the glass museum will gain half of O’Rourke’s space, giving them about three-fourths of the space.
“The new space will be used to create offices, additional storage, and a new research library,” Vivian said. “However, the project is being done by volunteers, so it won’t happen overnight.”
The library will contain more than 150 books relevant to the topic of glass. While the library will not lend out books, they can be accessed by the public during regular business hours. The books will be listed on the Access Pennsylvania website, which serves as the state’s electronic library.
In addition to the expansion project, the museum has received several grants that will allow for new projects, including a special membership drive. The membership drive, which began Sept. 1 and runs through June 3, will allow new members to pay only half of the regular membership fee, which will be matched by the Challenge Grant awarded by the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County.
This grant is part of the more than $14,000 the museum has been awarded this year that pertains to the implementation of specific projects. Other major grant projects include new informational flyers as well as road signs notifying drivers of the museum.
Vivian hopes that grants and projects such as these will attract more locals to the museum. While the museum boasts a membership of more than 100 people, only 30 are from Mt. Pleasant.
“We started the speakers series last year, which was a success,” said Vivian. “Other projects have not drawn in as many Mt. Pleasant residents as we would have hoped.”
According to Vivian, about 90 percent of the museum’s items are donated by private owners and glass collectors. The majority of donations are on loan by the owners so that they can be displayed to the public.
“The museum is just a dream come true,” said museum docent Don Sechrist of Scottdale. “I worked at the glass factory here in Mt. Pleasant for decades, and now my wife and I collect a lot of the pieces made during that time. Being in the museum is like going back in time, to when there were a lot of skilled craftsmen who took pride in their work.”
The museum, which features pieces from the Bryce, Smith and Lenox factories, is staffed by volunteer docents like Sechrist who are passionate about the history of Mt. Pleasant’s influence in the glass industry.
Sechrist showed a visitor a piece of glass for sale at the museum and flicked it, making it sing. “You hear that? That’s a great ring. You know, the more lead they added to the glass, the better the ring.”
“And the sicker the glassmakers got!” added fellow docent Sharon Hribal of Scottdale.
Sechrist laughed and said, “Well, she’s right about that.”
As the expansion continues, the museum remains open during its regular hours of 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays from March through December.
For details, call the museum at 724-547-5929 or visit the museum’s Facebook page.
Kaidia Pickels is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.