It began as a debate on the use by historians of the terms Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age. Had there ever been a time when glass was dominant? Could it be now? The concept of a ‘Glass Age’ took root in the USA, becoming widely promoted by organisations such as the American Ceramic Society and the International Commission on Glass.
The success of the UN International Year of Light in 2015 suggested another line of thinking. Was an International Year of Glass feasible? After all glass and light are intertwined; and glass has a major role in areas such as communications, biomaterials, energy generation and conservation, as well as its products being inherently sustainable. To justify a UN International Year requires a matching of aspirations to those of the UN, in particular the UN 2030 Humanitarian goals. This discussion began in 2016; thoughts matured into published articles.
Progress could not be delayed by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Through the efforts of many excellent Scientists and Industrialists throughout the world, documentation was created showing the significance of glassy materials in promoting many of the UN goals. 2022 was identified as a year with many anniversaries of key historical events concerned with the manufacture and use of glass. Application was made to the United Nations. Following many twists, turns and delays in the process, the UN finally passed a resolution confirming that 2022 would be officially declared as a time to celebrate the International Year of Glass.
In what seems like the blink of an eye, the Opening Ceremony to launch a spectacular year of events is now upon us. It will take place in the Palace of Nations, a large, richly decorated lecture hall which is part of the UN complex in Geneva. Nearby is the Ariana Museum which has a rich collection of glassware. Numbers attending are sadly limited to 173 to ensure COVID security but the event will be broadcast live over the internet and also recorded so that it can be viewed at leisure the world over.
Over two days, thirty internationally renowned lecturers will explore and expand on the arguments that supported the initial application to the UN. The speakers are from industry, academia, the media, museums and art. Their subject matter ranges from biomaterials to energy generation and conservation; from gender issues to the history of glass making and from telecommunications to sustainable production.
All are aware of the 2030 UN goals and will flavour their presentations accordingly; they will know only too well the amazing contributions that glass artefacts have given and will continue to offer society, enthusing and no doubt enthralling their audience, to make this an unmissable event for all in the glass community.
Welcome to the year of Glass,
John M. Parker and Alicia Durán