Webography for the Blaschka Marine Invertebrates

 Ocean Realm 2001

Ocean Realm magazine: The Blaschka Octopus at Cornell University

Summer 2001 cover photograph  by William Warmus


Additional Sources for the Blaschka Marine Invertebrates

by William Warmus

Note: The web sources below include links to the appropriate domains. Please let us know if the links are broken at www.pontus.org.

Blaschka Models in Belgium:

Le Musée de Zoologie de l'Université de Liège

At: http://www.ulg.ac.be/museezoo/

Modèles en verre des Blaschka

Nous sommes apparemment le seul musée de Belgique ayant commandé, sous le professorat d'Edouard Van Beneden en 1886, des modèles d'invertébrés en verre à Léopold Blaschka, établi à Dresden. Sur les 77 modèles référenciés livrés alors, 18 n'apparaissent pas dans les registres d'entrée, 59 ont été enregistrés en deux parties, en janvier puis juin 1926. Trois d'entre-eux sont dûment renseignés comme brisés depuis, et des archives signalent au moins quatorze modèles en verre brisés lors des bombardements de décembre 1944 et janvier 1945, sans préciser lesquels.

Pour tout renseignement à ce sujet, contacter museezoo@ulg.ac.be

A Glass Menagerie: The Glass Marine Animals
of Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka

by Carrie Call Breese, Cornell University

At: http://www.glassline.net/guests/access/v11n3/blaschka.html

"The glass animals have faded into the background of historical memory, but they are now enjoying a renaissance. Packed away in crates at Corning Glass Center, the creatures have not been available for public viewing except for a handful displayed in a small pseudo-aquarium in the Corning Glass Center. Cornell is now in the process of raising the funds for bringing parts of the collection back to the university for display and for teaching purposes. The process involves repair and restoration and may take several years to accomplish. Yet the process is in motion, and in time the Blaschka's handiwork will be presented to the world once again."

The Glass Animals in Harvard Magazine, 1997

"Almost no one sees the glass menagerie given crystalline life by the Blaschkas--the jellyfish, sea cucumbers, octupuses, squids. The museum has about 360 Blaschka models of marine invertebrates, the second largest collection in the world, acquired through H.A. Ward's Natural Science Establishment in Rochester, New York, in the late 1870s for prices starting at 40 cents per model. The form and color of soft-bodied creatures could not then be preserved after death, and so the Blaschkas' creations, anatomically accurate and most lifelike, were valuable teaching aids. That they were also works of art may not have been fully appreciated at the time.

Only four glass animals are on display today. The others are dirty, many are broken, some are without labels, and they are quartered in three locations within the museum--in drawers, cupboards, and cartons--a motherless-child of a collection. The celebrated glass flowers, although better tended, need cleaning and some repair themselves, and may be relocated within the museum. Their conservation requirements were assessed more than six years ago, but the rescue mission moves slowly. Says Cherrie Corey, executive director of public programs, "Dealing with the glass flowers is such a big project that we haven't yet talked about the marine models."




Blaschkas and other artworks at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Autumn 2001

Link: http://www.mbayaq.org/aa/aa_pressroom/content/media/mbaq-02-jellies_installation.pdf

"Do artwork and water mix? They do when they're part of "Jellies: Living Art," a new special exhibition at Monterey Bay Aquarium. Integrating live displays of exotic and domestic jellies with works of art in a variety of media is a first for the aquarium. So are some of the challenges faced in creating an exhibit that serves the needs both of animals and art. "Each special exhibition is distinctive," said Exhibit Production Manager Karen Deaton. "But this one has taken us to another level. It's been very different-and very fun-to work on. "One of the first challenges her team faced was working with the artists and their particular needs. Dale Chihuly's installation is made of expensive and fragile glass. Cork Marcheschi's installation is also made of glass, but each piece also contains neon, xenon, argonor krypton gas-and the public can touch them. Lanny Bergner's metal and wire sculpture must be hung from the ceiling-but how?" Some of these pieces will be out in the open, so there's a little more of a risk," Deaton said. "But we're going on the assumption that our visitors, who are not usually destructive, willrespect the artwork."Then there's all that saltwater-nearly 9,000 gallons of it-in the live exhibits. The artwork, however, will be kept a comfortable distance from those exhibits, Deaton said. The closest the two elements get are with a lithograph by David Hockey and an oil painting by Pegan Brooke, which will be hung outside the 5,000-gallon moon jelly swarm exhibit.

"The curatorial responsibility in "Jellies: Living Art" is a challenge as well. The artwork is in a variety of media-glass, oil, photographs, prints and lithographs. Some, like the scientific glass jelly models by Rudolf and Leopold Blaschka, are over a century old and quite fragile.Display of large hanging pieces will, for the first time, require the assistance of aprofessional art installer from the Monterey Museum of Art. The aquarium has featured special exhibitions ever since it opened on October 20, 1984.The first 14 consisted of art and natural history displays, but no live animals. Topics include dphotos of aquarium construction and marine mammals and other marine life, mermaids, a StarTrek movie, and beach toys. Special exhibitions with live animals, which now number 13 including "Jellies: LivingArt," began in 1988 with "Mexico's Secret Sea."









William Warmus 
Ithaca, New York

Warmus, when he is not writing about art, pursues ocean projects. 

Images  copyright 2001 William Warmus

Some images accompanying this essay were digitally corrected