Museum of Glass: ‘Hot Lunch’ series fires up downtown crowd

The scene in the Hot Shop Amphitheater was common enough. The furnace glowed. Artists were at work shaping creations from delicate glass. And three master glassblowers settled into their latest designs.

But this was no ordinary Museum of Glass event. The artists were from Finland, and the audience was participating in the weekly Hot Lunch series–an event that has drawn the downtown crowd since the museum’s opening in 2002.

For the price of $8 for members ($18 for non-members), museum-goers receive a boxed lunch courtesy of Callucci’s Catering, seating in the hot shop, and the chance to watch the week’s featured artist at work. The price also includes admission to the museum after the lunchtime event.

“The Hot Lunch series is a wonderful opportunity to see guest artists and grab a bite to eat, without having to make a special trip down to the museum,” says Julie K. Pisto, Director of Marketing and Communications at the museum.

While the majority of Hot Lunch attendees are museum members, tourists, and retirees, a number of people either living or working downtown attend the series regularly.

Pisto believes that the series particularly appeals to business groups because of the cooperative nature of creating art and blowing glass.
“Blowing glass is a team-oriented form of art that is very choreographed,” she says. “This series is a great opportunity for groups of business people to do a different kind of team-building lunch.“

At the series last week, that aspect of teamwork was on display as three Finnish artists were in town to participate in a series of events (including Hot Lunch) over the weekend. Internationally recognized artist Oiva Toikka, best known for Birds by Toikka, a collection representing over one hundred species designed over a period of 30 years, drew pen-and-paper designs at a large table, then handed the drawings to a pair of master glassblowers, who then created the designs. Toikka stood nearby, supervising the work and offering instructions to his staff in Finnish.

Meanwhile, volunteer glass artists based at the museum were on-hand to assist as needed.

Throughout the process, visitors filled the amphitheater seating, eating from boxed lunches, watching the artists at work, and listening to a museum employee describe the glassblowing process.

The Hot Lunch series is part of the museum’s larger community outreach business plan, which includes group tours, classes and lectures, public programs, and internships.

For more information about the Hot Lunch series, visit the Museum of Glass online at