Discovering Murano: The Island Behind the Glass

The Island of Murano

Murano glass is known around the world for its quality and artistry. In fact, we frequently sell it at our Magnusson Estate Sales! But how much do you know about Murano glass?  I traveled to the Island of Murano, just outside Venice, to learn more about the beautiful Italian tradition of glass making. If you are traveling to Murano, you can also follow these tips to have the best experience while there.

A History of Murano

Venetian glass has been a world standard for quality since the 8th century. In 1291, lawmakers ordered all glass-making to move from Venice to Murano under the pretext of protecting the townspeople from accidental fires.  Historians strongly suspect the rule was actually imposed to protect trade secrets from leaving the territory. Regardless of the motivation, the move helped solidify Murano as a premier glass-making center.

The Modern Murano Designation

Many people assume that Murano is a brand name, like Tiffany. This is not the case. Instead, the Murano designation signifies that the glass was made on the island of Murano. Each small factory has its own kiln, but glass masters act as independent agents who are contracted to complete specific work for different studios. A skilled glass master can become highly sought after, but they may not sign their work. More often, the company who hired them will add their own insignia to the article.

Visiting Murano

After arriving in Venice, the easiest and cheapest way to travel is by water taxi. Water taxis are slow moving boats that shuttle passengers to the islands surrounding Venice. I recommend finding a seat in the very front or the back of the boat, so you can see the water directly!

Once you arrive on the island, ask a local where the nearest glass-making demonstration is taking place. These demonstrations are typically free, quick and an easy way to see glass-making firsthand. You also have the opportunity to ask questions directly of the glassblower.


Seeing the Glass

After seeing the glass-making demonstration, you can visit The Murano Glass Museum or check out the local wares in the studios around the island. Do not expect to see your typical Murano glass! I was surprised by the creativity of the local artists. Most of the galleries forbid photography, but there were stunning examples of glass octopi, fish, bulls, horses, paint cartons and abstractions. With its bright colors and 24k flourishes, Murano glass shines bright among the glass-making tradition.

Our upcoming estate sale in Morristown, NJ has a respectable collection of Murano glass pieces available for purchase. To learn more about the pieces and see pictures, please visit the Estate Sale Listing, or the listing on If you want to know more about the glass in your home, feel free to call The Magnusson Group at 973-425-1550.

Co-authors: Lynn Magnusson, ASA, AAA and Becky Lipnick, Communications Coordinator

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