The glass is glittering in a restored factory Museum: Conversion of the building is nearly complete. The collection ranges from historic test tubes to modern abstract sculptures.

Travel Q&A


Do you have details on a new glass museum in La Granja de San Ildefonso in Spain?

The 18th-century Royal Glass Factory in La Granja de San Ildefonso, near Madrid, has been undergoing restoration since 1982, when the nonprofit National Glass Center Foundation undertook the project. The finishing touches are expected this year on the former factory, an imposing gray granite structure, where some of the finest crystal in Europe was once produced by glass-blowers from Venice, Bohemia and Spain.

The Museo del Vidrio, or Museum of Crystal, which opened in 1991, is housed inside the building. The museum has nearly doubled in size since last June, to 172,000 square feet. Its new exhibition space houses historic flasks and test tubes used for science and medicine. The space dedicated to contemporary artistic glass has also been enlarged. Some of these abstract, multicolored glass sculptures are for sale. Prices range from about $190 to $2,000.

The museum's core exhibits are 500 Spanish pieces ranging from decanters to ornamental amphorae to fire-gilded glass from the factory's glory days in the 18th and 19th centuries, and a selection of 300 glass items from the rest of Europe, from the 16th through 19th centuries. Glass-blowing implements and machines used to make glass are also on view.

A temporary exhibition beginning in May will feature antique French crystal once used for perfumes or as candle holders.

The glass center is at 1 Paseo del Pocillo, near the entrance to town. It is about a 15-minute walk down the hill from La Granja's Royal Palace, which was built by a grandson of King Louis XIV of France and is modeled on the Versailles Palace.

The museum is open daily, except Monday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is about $3, $1.50 for senior citizens and students. Information: (34-21) 471-712. La Granja, at the foot of the Guadarrama range, is an hour's drive north of Madrid.

Pub Date: 2/16/97

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