History of Murano glassmaking
Murano’s reputation as a center for glassmaking was born when the Venetian Republic, fearing fire and destruction to the city’s mostly wood buildings, ordered glassmakers to move their foundries to Murano in 1291. Murano glass is still interwoven with Venetian glass.
Murano's glassmakers were soon the island’s most prominent citizens. By the 14th century, glass makers were allowed to wear swords, enjoyed immunity from prosecution by the Venetian state and found their daughters married into Venice’s most affluent families. Of course there was a catch: glassmakers weren't allowed to leave the Republic. However, many craftsmen took this risk and set up glass furnaces in surrounding cities and as far afield as England and the Netherlands.
Murano’s glassmakers held a monopoly on quality glassmaking for centuries, developing or refining many technologies including crystalline glass, enameled glass (smalto), glass with threads of gold (aventurine), multicolored glass (millefiori), milk glass (lattimo), and imitation gemstones made of glass. Today, the artisans of Murano are still employing these centuries-old techniques, crafting everything from contemporary art glass and glass jewelry to Murano glass chandeliers and wine stoppers.
Today, Murano is home to the Museo Vetrario or Glass Museum in the Palazzo Giustinian, which holds displays on the history of glassmaking as well as glass samples ranging from Egyptian times through the present day.
Some of the historical glass factories in Murano are now among the most important brands of glass in the world. These companies include: Venini, Barovier & Toso, Simone Cenedese and Seguso.
The oldest Murano glass factory that is still active today is that of Pauly & C. – Compagnia Venezia Murano, founded in 1866.