PGC's Top 10 for 2020

Top 10 Highlights
Silica Valley exhibition curator John Sharvin

Silica Valley and PGC go virtual

When we opened our first exhibition exploring the interplay between technology and human creativity in March, we had no idea that 2 weeks later we would rely solely on technology to share this important show with the world. The pandemic forced us to turn this exhibition into a dynamic digital show that included our first virtual curator-led tour in the gallery and a myriad of virtual at-home lesson plans, demonstrations and activities for learning about technology and glass at home that were used by The Ohio State University, UC Blue Ash College and Columbus College of Art and Design.

Visitors to the United exhibition

International exhibition presented at Intersect Chicago

The pandemic didn’t stop us from presenting important exhibitions. We launched “The United” in October with work from artists around the world commenting on immigration. Even more digital programs were developed including a virtual opening with glassblowing demonstration and gallery talk and tour with curator Johanna Lasner. We worked in partnership with Intersect Chicago (formerly SOFA) to showcase the exhibition and present a virtual artist panel titled “Hanging on Every Word: Listening and Learning on Immigration Art” to 80 individuals.

PGC's Glass Mosaic Giveaway

Earth Day glass giveaway         

In honor of Earth Day, we gave away 400 pounds of glass via 300 free mosaic kits on April 22 and 24 to encourage our friends and neighbors to get creative with glass at home. The mosaic kit included instructions for creating a mosaic from items around your home and an assortment of glass to get started. People lined up around the block to get glass. After the giveaway, we continued to hear from people that they enjoyed the activity and wanted to make more projects. This was the inspiration for our new Glass-To-Go kits.

Mosaic kits at PGC

Glass-To-Go kits earn over $37,000

The pandemic caused us to get very creative and find new ways to offer hands-on glass experiences. Our new at-home glass art kits include everything you need to combine brilliantly colored pieces of glass to create a luminous glass suncatcher, votive holder, dish, or fun mosaic tiles and stepping stones. The kits have been extremely popular with all ages and we’re thrilled to reach new audiences and share the art of mosaic making by shipping kits across the country. So far, we’ve sold over 1,200 kits and earned over $37,000, far exceeding our goal.

Program Director Valerie Bundy

First programming director hired

We hired our first Program Director Valerie Bundy who came to PGC with many years of experience at Carnegie Museum of Art. Overseeing PGC’s education, exhibitions, and artists’ residencies is a big job but Valerie jumped right in and quickly became an intrinsic part of the PGC family. Valerie’s background in object-based learning allowed her to create programs to engage individuals of all ages (especially young ones) with glass and see it with new eyes. She developed educational programs that aligned with PA state standards and STEAM based curriculums for both of our exhibitions this year. Currently, she is planning and organizing a neon/plasma exhibition for early 2021 called “Light in Transmission” with curator Percy Echols.

Behind the scenes during filming of virtual Art on Fire

Virtual Art on Fire warmly received with hot production

This year we were challenged to find a new way to have our annual 400+ person fundraiser and auction in this socially distanced era when large gatherings were not permitted. We worked with local Emmy award-winning producer Emmai Alaquiva to produce our first virtual Art on Fire Celebration & Auction. We held private one-on-one tours of the auction artwork and hand delivered VIP party boxes including charcuterie bites by Bistro-To-Go, wine, and handmade glass wine stoppers and cheese plates to add to the virtual event. We raised over $150,000.

Shoppers at Pumpkin Patch event

We gave glass & supported artists 

On two Saturdays in October, we held socially distanced Glass Pumpkin Patch events in our parking lot to sell glass pumpkins made by local artists and also fall-themed Glass-To-Go kits such as bats, ghosts, leaves and acorns. Between the two events we earned more than $16,000, with over half going directly to local artists. This holiday season we emphasized gift-giving and maximized our retail opportunities with the launch of our first online artist shop to support artists and sell locally made ornaments, décor, tableware, jewelry and more. And we partnered with Handmade Arcade to promote local glass artists’ work, Glass-To-Go kits, and our signature line of tableware Penn/Fairmount. During the week of Handmade Arcade alone we earned nearly $12,000. Since October, we’ve earned over $40,000 in glass sales for local artists and PGC.

Small group activities

Bubble classes begin

Although glassblowing was a no go, we creatively found a way to respond to the continued demand for hands-on classes. Classes were reconfigured to offer small groups of 2-5 friends and family members who considered themselves in a pod (bubble) the chance to try glass. Only 1 pod class takes place in the studio at a time while emphasizing safety of the students and instructors and thoroughly cleaning the studios between classes using new UV technology and tried and true sanitizing solutions. It’s been a real challenge for us and our teaching artists to find new ways to share our passion for glass with our students when we always want to help by offering a guiding a hand or giving closeup encouragement.

Filming a virtual gallery tour

Tuning in for virtual tours & demonstrations

A generous grant from the Emma Clyde Hodge Memorial Fund allowed us to invest in video equipment to begin offering digital and virtual programs. New this year, we hosted virtual field trips with live glassblowing demonstrations and opportunities for schools and other groups to interact virtually with our artists. We also produced free virtual gallery tours and offered virtual Hot Jams on First Fridays to give people the chance to still watch live glassblowing demonstrations.

Community glass art programs

Free community programs continue

Despite the pandemic, it has remained important for us to continue to provide free, accessible, and safe programs to our community. We offered free virtual field trips to our community of teachers in the spring. During the summer, we hosted the Brothers and Sisters Emerging (BASE) summer camp program for socially distant fusing activities in our parking lot. We welcomed middle school girls from around the city in the Tour your Future program for virtual glassblowing demonstrations and free mosaic kits. In the fall, we partnered with Assemble to offer a week of virtual mosaic making lessons with 50 mosaic kits for their students. We also collaborated with Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS) to offer a free glassblowing demonstration and artist conversation for their Create Hope program. We most recently donated 23 mosaic kits to the Bloomfield Garfield Free Holiday Market. Nearly 80 people registered for our free virtual mosaic workshop in partnership with Handmade Arcade.

Support PGC Today


Now, when earned revenue is significantly reduced because of safety limitations on in-person programming, Pittsburgh Glass Center needs your help more than ever.

Will you make a gift today so that PGC can continue to operate during the pandemic and fulfill their mission to inspire artists through glass?