THIS summer more than 225,000 travelers who wanted to catch their breath and feast their eyes have stopped in the small (pop. 19,000) upstate New York glass-manufacturing center of Corning. On view in the Corning Museum of Glass, which is part of the new laboratory and research center of the Corning Glass Works (makers of Steuben crystal) are 128 choice examples from the greatest age of Venetian glassmaking: the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.

The glass goblets, vases and bowls on display, made for Renaissance princes and Islamic sultans, are now owned by private U.S. collectors and museums, who lent them to...

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