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Bottle museum dedicates space to one of its own

The Artists' Space in the National Bottle Museum in Ballston Spa will be dedicated to Jan Rutland, the museum's long-time executive director who died suddenly last October.

The Artists' Space in the National Bottle Museum in Ballston Spa will be dedicated to Jan Rutland, the museum's long-time executive director who died suddenly last October. Submitted Photo

— “The dedication of this space which she visualized and made happen will be a fitting tribute to her impute and energy and her memory,” said Rutland.

The National Bottle Museum seems like it has a simple enough mission: preserve bottling history.

For Jan, though, the institution meant so much more.

“She was always out promoting the museum. Bottle collecting is a very popular hobby. … There are many bottle shows and bottle collecting clubs and she went to many of them to support the hobby and also look for support for the museum from the hobby,” said Moeller. “She was pretty successful. We have a plaque that lists a number of bottle clubs that provide regular support to the museum.”

Bottle clubs from Canada, Great Britain and all but two U.S. states contribute to the museum.

“That is partially related to the popularity of the hobby but also related to the concept of the museum, which exists to preserve the history of the handmade bottle industry,” said Moeller.

She also took care of such simple tasks as replacing lighting, heating and cooling systems.

Moeller said he sees the colored glass cylinders that fill the museum as artifacts and keepers of a rich part of the region’s history.

“I understand they’re collectibles but to me each bottle is an artifact of a business that no longer exists,” said Moeller. “The first glass manufacturing for bottles was in Jamestown, Va. in the early 1600s … there was a glass factory in the Town of Greenfield.”

The museum’s permanent collection is about 2,000 bottles large, a number that increased by about a third under Jan’s watch.

“Were it not for Jan, this place would not exist. She was the person who kept it going. It was her efforts at promotion, at encouraging the hobby, that’s what kept this museum going for as long as it’s been going,” said Moeller.

Jan also purchased a building on Washington Street to be used as a glass studio where hot glass classes are taught.

Moeller said he hopes the museum can continue Jan’s legacy.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to keep it going for a long time to come,” said Moeller.

The National Bottle Museum is located at 76 Milton Ave. in Ballston Spa and is a not-for-profit educational institution. Jan’s collection of art, the inaugural exhibit in the renamed Artists’ Space, will run until mid-November. More information about the museum is available online at www.nationalbottlemuseum.org or by calling 885-7589.

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