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Crystal Museum


On display traditional craftsmanship turned art

The Crystal Museum in Colle di Val d’Elsa is the only one of its kind in Italy and, after an initial opening in 2001, was renovated in 2023.

It is located in the area of the old Boschi glassworks, the driving force of the local economy between the 1920s and the very early 1950s. The museum tour is on two levels that run under the glassworks’ chimney and allows us to trace the history of the glass industry from the beginning of the 19th century to the final establishment of the lead crystal mixture (1963) that characterized all the production in the second half of the 20th century and made Colle known worldwide as the Crystal City.

Beginning with the display of a number of medieval-era artifacts referable to the production of so-called “gambassini” (of Gambassi) (glassworks have been known in Colle since 1331), the narrative comes alive in 1820, the year in which glassmaker Francesco Mathis opened a “crystal” factory in Piano, next to the church of Sant’Agostino. The production, later taken over by Giovan Battista Schmid, soon distinguished itself in Italy for the high quality and purity of its white glass. Even at that historical moment, the items were subjected to second processing, made through the techniques of grinding and carving.

Crystal Museum
Crystal Museum

Even today, crystal still represents one of the most important production realities for Colle Val d’Elsa, so much so that the town has come to produce 15% of all the world’s crystal and more than 95% of all Italian crystal.

New market needs and a different sensibility have pushed companies toward an important innovation: producing a lead-free mixture but with the same characteristics of luster, transparency and sonority, a quest that puts the industry of Colle Val d’Elsa at the forefront of sustainability, health and environmental awareness.

The current tour of the museum places emphasis not only on the productions and history of glass and crystal but especially on the people who made this development possible. For this reason, after the historical narrative that is told in the first level and concludes with the large section dedicated to design, the level below is totally dedicated to the professional figures who populated the factories and their instruments through videos and testimonies.

The experience is enriched by an evocative immersive journey built on the four elements (earth, water, fire and air), which allows visitors to see crystal come into being as it passes through the different stages, from raw materials to incandescent fluid mass to solidification into transparent and luminous forms.

Museo del Cristallo
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