The Museum of Crystal in Colle Val d’Elsa, housed in one of the historic furnaces of the Cristallerie e Vetrerie Schmidt, or ex-vetreria Boschi, factory, retraces along an innovative museum itinerary the history of the local glass production, beginning in 1820, the year the first furnace was built, through to the creation of lead glass in 1963, displaying some objects from the pre-industrial era and glass artefacts dating to the 14th and 15th centuries.
The history of glass in Colle begins in 1820, when the French glassmaker Francesco Mathis opened a “crystal” factory in the lower part of the village in the spaces of the suppressed Augustinian convent beside the Church of Sant’Agostino. The furnace, a one-of-a-kind in Tuscany, stood out immediately for its sophisticated production of typical Tuscan green glass. The factory also owned a neighbouring building, where objects were decorated with finishing touches and intaglio carvings.
Today, crystal is one of the most important industries in Colle Val d'Elsa, so much so that 15% of the world’s crystal and more than 95% of crystal found in Italy is produced in the city. The museum’s itinerary ends with an evocative “crystal forest,” a scenographic interpretation of the emotions evoked from the material that the museum is dedicated to.
While waiting for the Museum of Crystal to reopen following the renovation and new design of the building, it's possible to visit the exhibition hall of the Crystal Museum, set up at Palazzo dei Priori in Via del Castello with free admission and open to all.