The donation to the University’s art collection has become an annual occurrence on the birthday of West Virginia, June 20. This contribution from Blenko Glass Company, located in Milton, W. Va., reflects that family-owned businesses are valued and aid in keeping tradition of the Mountain State alive.
The West Virginia Birthday Blenko Glass Collection, which began in 1980, celebrates the state’s birthday by creating and selling the exact number of pieces as the state’s age.
This year, Blenko Glass has produced 151 original pieces to celebrate West Virginia’s 151st birthday. According to the Blenko Project website, www.blenkoproject.org, WVU houses just one of the 10 known complete sets.
This year’s design is unique in that each of the pieces will be a bit different and is called “Sunrise over Appalachia.”
WVU was given a majority of this collection through the generosity of Hillary Homburg, a WVU dental school alumna and 2002 WVU Foundation Scholar.
Homburg’s generosity stemmed from her pride and love for the University and the state.
“As a student, I felt that there were so many dynamic, encouraging people that want you to be successful,” Homburg said. “I learned from my professors and the Foundation the joy of giving.”
As a fourth generation legacy student, Homburg felt the Blenko West Virginia Birthday vases would be best represented with pride by the University because of its own unique and rich history within the state. In 2007, Homburg decided to donate her personal collection from 1980 to 2007 to WVU.
“At the time, my Blenko West Virginia Birthday vases were my most valuable asset,” Homburg said. “I wanted to give something back to the University, and it also would allow the vases to be seen and admired by the many visitors to campus.”
The Blenko family has continued the tradition and donated the latest collectable vases in the series to the University’s art collection each year.
Currently as a WVU School of Dentistry adjunct faculty member, Homburg also is a writer for The (Huntington) Herald-Dispatch newspaper. Her column is called “Heart of Glass,” http://herald-dispatchblogs04.blogspot.com/, where she blogs about the timeless treasures of Blenko and West Virginia Glass.
The latest Blenko Glass collectible was given to WVU’s art collection in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The $750 million comprehensive campaign is being conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University and runs through December 2015.
CONTACT: Bill Nevin, WVU Foundation
Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.