Discover the Collection

Professor William E S Turner was arguably the most knowledgeable person of his era on the history of glass. His collection of glass objects, acquired throughout a lifetime of travels and research during the first half of the twentieth century, makes up the basis of the museum’s exhibits.

Engraved glass bowl
ID: 30 Engraved Glass Bowl

Egyptian glass bottle
ID: 212 Small 8th century Egyptian bottle

Glass art 'Piano-playing hands' by Denis Mann
Glass art 'Piano-playing hands' by Denis Mann

Blue glass fish scuplture
ID: 484 Glass Fish

Glass installation 'Hydrospheres' by Keiko Mukaide

Glass sculpture 'Aperture' made by Galice Amsel
Glass sculpture 'Aperture' made by Galia Amsel

The collection has continued to grow through acquisitions and donations, such as the collection of eighteenth-century drinking glasses donated by Albert Harland in 1943.

The collection has been catalogued and categorised based on their age and their provenance. There are over 380 pieces on permanent display including:

  • Bohemian, Czechoslovakian, Scandinavian, French and Dutch Glass
  • ltalian Glass from Murano, Venice
  • Experimental works by Frederick Carder manufactured at Corning in New York State, USA
  • Roman and Syrian Glass British Glass including pieces by John Moncrieff Ltd, James Powell and Son Ltd and Webb Corbett Ltd.
  • Studio glass pieces by Sam Herman, Anne Warf, Anna Dickinson and Keiko Mukaide.
  • The glass fibre wedding dress and accessories worn by Helen Nairn Munro when she married Professor W.E.S.Turner.

Feature article - Object of the Month: 

Jacobite Wine Glass: ID: 171

 by Ella Barrett, MA History student

Jacobite wine glass with Fiat moto
ID: 171 Jacobite wine glass

This Jacobite wine glass has a drawn trumpet bowl is engraved with a rose bud with two oak leaves, an open rose with closed bud and two leaves. The stem includes multiple series air twist technique and a plain conical foot.

Several wine glasses in the collection symbolise visual elements that represent the Stuart monarchy. This particular glass is a key example: the engraved rose buds, oak leaves and closed buds all signify the House of the Stuarts.

The inclusion of the oak leaf references the escape of King Charles II during the English Civil War in 1651 and is a symbol of restoration and regeneration. It connects the complicated relationship between the Stuarts and the English Crown.

The air twist in the stem was the style in vogue in 18th century glassmaking. All English ‘air twists’ rotate in the same direction, with the glass blowers using their right hand to hold and rotate the pontil (iron rod used to shape the soft glass) in one direction while twisting the stem with their left, differentiating their production from other styles around Europe during that period.

Fact about the Stuart Dynasty:

Toasting to an overthrown King was a common but secret celebration in the 18th century. Following the transition of the Royal Houses from the Stuart Dynasty to the Oranges, the 1688 Glorious Revolution restructured English society.

Historically, the widespread production of tyrannous wine glasses symbolises an important period within British History known as ‘Jacobite’, where members of the public supported the return of King James II of Stuart House.

Engraved glass bowl
ID: 30 Engraved Glass Bowl

International Year of Glass 2022

The United Nations has designated 2022 as the International Year of Glass, and as such is a year of particular significance to the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield.

IYOG22 will open with a conference in Geneva featuring 30 world-class speakers, a Glass Expo in China, and Art/History Congresses in Egypt, the US and Europe. Professor Parker is also planning a number of public engagement events in the Department to showcase different aspects of glass in science, technology, society and art.