• Colle di Val d'Elsa

    Crystal Museum

The Crystal Museum of Colle Val d’Elsa is the first museum in Italy dedicated to this highly prized material and to its production.  Work in crystal stands out among Colle’s most important enterprises, for this city alone creates 15% of the crystal produced in the world and more than 95% of all that is produced in Italy.

Set up inside the old furnaces of the Schmidt Crystal and Glassworks, formerly known as the Boschi Glassworks, the modern structure that houses the museum is designed to combine the city’s past with its present, presenting both memory and progress, while at the same time giving new life to an industrial site no longer in use.

The different sections along the original museum layout recreate the history of the local crystal industry, starting in 1820, the year the first furnace went into operation, through to the full manufacturing of lead crystal that came about in 1963.  Displays present examples of pre-industrial production and of glass articles dating all the way back to the 14th and 15th centuries.

Beyond classic tableware (tumblers, wine glasses, bottles) other objects used in daily life are shown, such as inkwells and funnels, along with glassware made for pharmacies and laboratories.  Every historic period was marked by different styles in terms of shapes, colours, as well as manufacturing and decoration techniques.  Explanatory panels not only describe the history of various glassworks established in the city but also provide fascinating glimpses into the life of Colle and its inhabitants, as told through historic documents, period photographs, and insightful personal anecdotes.

One section is dedicated to the production of the first objects in valuable crystal (which started in 1963), paying great attention to the quality of design.  The showcases hold pieces that unite the aesthetics of shape with the function of the object, marrying technical skill with artistic creativity.

The exhibits conclude with the reconstruction of the primary steps in production and with an evocative symbolic area devoted to sensorial perceptions: the Crystal Forest, a spectacular interpretation of the emotions prompted by the treasured material to which the museum is devoted.

The glass Harrison Ford used in the famous film Blade Runner, designed in 1972 by Cini Boeri.

The Crystal Forest: walking between mirrors, columns of crystal, sonorous clusters of chalices blown by the wind, visitors are immersed in a rich, sensory world of light, reflections, and sound.

The Crystal Museum
Via dei Fossi, 8 (ex area Boschi)
53034 Colle di Val d’Elsa
Tel.: 0577 912776
email: bookshopmuseodelcristallo@operalaboratori.com



from November 1st to December 24th

Friday, Saturday and Sunday and holidays
11am – 4pm

25th December

from December 26th to January 6th

every day and holidays with one day closed midweek
11am – 5pm

January 1st
12.30 am – 6.30 pm

from January 7th to February 28th

Friday, Saturday and Sunday
11am – 4pm

1st March to October 31st

every day and holidays, closed on Wednesdays
11am – 5pm


Full price: 8€
(Valid also for the Museo di San Pietro)

Reduced: 5€

As a stronghold that was fought over for many years by Florence and Siena, Colle fell under Florentine rule in the mid-1300s, when its economic power was at its height.  The city is famous as the 1240 birthplace of the architect and sculptor Arnolfo di Cambio, to whom the main square was later dedicated, and the 1370 birthplace of Cennino Cennini, author of Il Libro d’Arte (The Book of Art), a fundamental treatise on Medieval painting techniques.  The town, once divided into different quarters known as Piano, Borgo and Castello (today “Colle Alta” and “Colle Bassa”), was renowned from the 1700s onward for its paper mills, which were driven by the river and by its gore (waterways leading to a mill).  Having become an episcopal seat in the 1500s, Colle has noteworthy buildings in architectural and urbanistic terms: the Palazzo Campana, which stands in the historic city centre; the Teatro dei Varii, a delightful experiment in theatre-design by Bibiena; the Convent of St. Francis and the impressive Duomo (Cathedral). Today it is known as the “Crystal City” because it is responsible for 15% of crystal production throughout the world and more than 95% of all crystal produced in Italy, blending together the very best in design with an age-old local tradition of glasswork.