The Boroff Collection: Goblets, Memories and Friendships

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April 1-December 31, 2017 in the Museum of American Glass

The Boroff Collection: Goblets, Memories, and Friendships shares the passion of contemporary glass art goblet collectors, Barbara and Alan Boroff.  Through the display of a curated selection of goblets from their collection this exhibit tells the story of their journey as collectors, illustrates their style, and exemplifies their connection to and respect for the artists.  

“My feeling about goblets?  They’re like potato chips. Seriously. I feel that if you start somebody with a goblet, it’s very easy to buy another one.”

– Barbara Boroff

Studio Glass of the 1960s and 1970s

Barbara and her husband Alan were, “conscious of trying to make a historic collection once we started. I wanted to get the old stuff. I wanted to get the starters, even, I wanted a historical collection. I didn’t want just what I liked. We both felt we…were collecting to make it a worthwhile collection for people to see.”


Josh Simpson, 1984

Red Goblet by Josh Simpson, 1984

Studio Glass of the 1980s and 1990s

The Boroffs enjoyed collecting a contemporary art form in part because “90% of the people are still alive. The magic of the goblets, of the glass, so that you could really have your footnotes not be in a book but from a real person, and we have met many, many of the glass workers, and that again is so much of the draws of why it’s so important.”


Noble Effort (Richard  Marquis and Ro Purser), undated

Golbet by Richard Marquis and Ro Purser, undated

Studio Glass of the 2000s to today

Barbara continues to support the contemporary artists who use glass. “I run craft shows and that’s something that I did for 30 years. I was always very conscious and very caring about the artists making a living, and I still feel very strongly. I’m upset when I hear people pushing artists to get a better price. You forget they have to eat, too. It’s more than just ‘I got a good buy on this’ kind of thing.”


Zach Puchowitz, 2002

Golbet by Zach Puchowitz, 2002

Artists Over Time, Old and New

Within the Boroff collection are pieces by the same artists, acquired at different stages of their careers. “See how I have been able to watch the artists grow? That was also a priority.”


Charles Savoie, undated

Goblet by Charles Savoie, undated

Collectors Over Time, First and Latest

Both Barbara and Alan, “are collectors by personality and interest. And we were skiing in Vale and I said ‘Why don’t we buy a goblet as a memento of the trip?’ and since he likes to collect, of course, he said yes, and that’s how we started. Then we became enamored of the whole thing, and it grew into a major part of our lives.”


Cody Nicely, undated

Goblet by Cody Nicely, undated

Relationship with Artists

On their relationship with artists Barbara notes, “Well, it’s very important for you as an artist and me as a collector to communicate because you want me to buy your stuff and I’m much more apt to buy it if I have a personal relationship. It’s amazing…how many personal relationships have developed because, again, the famous people are still alive.”


Ricky Bernstein, 2003 (created for Alan Boroff)

Goblet Artwork by Ricky Bernstein

Relationship with WheatonArts, CGCA Fellows

Through her relationship with WheatonArts, Barbara was introduced to artists. “I knew David Lewin [WheatonArts Glass Studio Artist 1990-1997] very well. Anytime there was a new goblet maker at Wheaton he would call me.”


Lucio Babacco, 1999

Goblet by Lucio Bubacco, 1999

Relationship with WheatonArts, Staff and Volunteers

Barbara feels goblets are “a wonderful introduction to an amazing art form that is very much undervalued and underappreciated,” noting many people don’t know where to learn about glass, where to buy it, or where to meet the artist. She and Alan educated themselves. “I have a lot of books, we got a lot of books. We went to as many glass events as possible, we went for several years to Wheaton.”

Tony DePalma, 1984

Glass Goblet by Tony Depalma, 1984

Goblets on Display, in Museums and Galleries

Barbara has lent pieces of the collection to museums and has curated shows in galleries. “Our passion si the goblets. partially because I’ve been to many museums that have glass, including yours, but nobody has any collection of contemporary goblets. I’ve had our goblet collection in several museums. I want them to be seen. I want more people to know about glass.”

Rick Schneider and Nikki Vahle, 2001

Cage Cup by Strathmeyer and Kelly, undated

Goblets on Display in the Home

With over 650 pieces in the collection, the Boroffs designed elegant ways of displaying the goblets in their home. Having seen back-lit cases, Barbara and Alan, “both got the idea at the same time to ask different artists to do our shelves and it was just a struck of lightning that we did.”

Abby Modell, undated

Goblets by Abby Modell, undated