The over 7,600 objects of the MAK’s glass collection include outstanding examples of the most important European manufactories’ output and provide an overview of the development of stained glass between the 15th and 19th centuries, as well as of blown glassware from the 16th century to the present. The collection’s focuses include engraved and cut glass, as well as coat of arms glasses painted in enamel and Schwarzlot painting from Bohemian and Silesian glass factories, as well as a diverse collection of 16th-to-18th-century Venetian glass.
A further collection focus lies on medieval stained glass; the MAK’s holdings include works from St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna which number among Austria’s oldest extant stained glass works. The Biedermeier period is documented by a collection of quality cased glass and hyalith and lithyalin glass, as well as glass works with translucent enamel painting including examples by the glass painters Sigismund and Samuel Mohn and from the workshop of Anton Kothgasser.
Of particular international significance are the holdings of Art Nouveau glass from Austria. The abundance of fine turn-of-the-century glass works in the MAK Collection—which aside from those of Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser also include designs by Jutta Sika, Carl Witzmann and Michael Powolny—is thanks to individuals including Ludwig Lobmeyr, who worked as a curator at the Museum for Art and Industry (today’s MAK) from 1874.
Even back then, Lobmeyr—along with other merchant-employers from Vienna including E. Bakalowits & Söhne—spearheaded efforts to further the interests of the glass-working trade. Through numerous donations, above all the gift of ca. 1,000 original factory drawings of his glass creations from 1824 onward, Lobmeyr made a major contribution to the MAK collection—which today represents the largest museum collection of glass by the company J. & L. Lobmeyr outside of the manufactory itself. The MAK‘s glass collection also includes high-quality holdings of Art Nouveau glass objects from the various regions of the former Austro-Hungarian monarchy, from France and from America.
Furthermore, the glass collection is home to important examples of French glass art from the Art Déco period as well as simply formed and strongly colored Italian and Scandinavian glass objects from the 1950s and 1960s by Italy’s Venini and Seguso, Sweden’s Ørrefors and Finland’s ITTALA.
The 21st century is represented above all via objects produced by the company J. & L. Lobmeyr. The tradition of collaborating with contemporary artists has moved merchant-employer Lobmeyr to continue producing designs by contemporary designers such as Barbara Ambrosz, Florian Ladstätter, Miki Martinek, Sebastian Menschhorn, and Polka (Marie Rahm and Monica Singer) in Bohemian production facilities.
Outstanding exhibits from the MAK Glass Collection are on display in the rooms of the MAK Permanent Collection Baroque Rococo Classicism and Renaissance Baroque Rococo, as well as in the MAK DESIGN LAB/thematic area Eating and Drinking, opened in 2014. This area invites visitors to come on an impressive historical journey to discover the different styles of laying the table throughout the ages, with glass objects ranging from the Middles Ages to the 21st century.