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Local Pyrex museum to get its own TV show

Pyrex Museum owner and local artist Amy Burnett takes a photo of a couple from California who recently visited the museum. Burnett has videotaped visitors to the museum this summer for a BKAT TV program that begins Oct. 3. - Seraine Page
Pyrex Museum owner and local artist Amy Burnett takes a photo of a couple from California who recently visited the museum. Burnett has videotaped visitors to the museum this summer for a BKAT TV program that begins Oct. 3.
— image credit: Seraine Page

Walking into Amy Burnett’s Pyrex Museum is a flashback to some of the sturdiest, most appreciated dishware of all-time.

Burnett, owner of the museum, decided to capture those flashbacks from visitors on camera. Over the course of the summer, Burnett filmed more than 2,000 visitors’ reactions to seeing the tiny museum, which is tucked into a corner of her art gallery.

In turn, the short videos will be showcased in a weekly six-month television series that begins on Oct. 3. The half-hour special, titled “Amy’s Pyrex People Reality Show” will air every Thursday at 7:30 p.m. on Comcast BKAT channel 12 and WAVE channel 3.

“I consider it an art project,” said Burnett. “I’m not a filmmaker. I consider them art films. This is my contribution to the community … when anyone comes in here, they are part of a performance piece.”

Of all the stories she’s heard from visitors, Burnett’s favorite so far has been of a woman who got excited over a Pyrex teapot. The woman said her grandmother loved the floral teapot so much that she requested that her ashes be put into it and buried once she passed away. Burnett excitedly tells the story to visitors who come in oohing and ahhing over the pieces in the museum.

Another visitor emailed from Japan, telling Burnett ahead of time that she planned to make the museum a stop on her list when she would be in Seattle.

“In 22 years of business, I have never seen as many tourists as this year,” Burnett said. For Burnett, capturing the reactions has been priceless and a joyous experience for her. “As soon as they see the massive Pyrex (collection)…(it’s) literal shrills and they can’t believe it,” she said.

She’s had visitors of all ages, from the elderly to young students. On the second week of the show, Burnett said students from Crown Hill Elementary School — which brought more than 60 kids into a glass-filled museum — will be featured on the series.

“I told them they didn’t have to worry about breaking anything,” she said of the second grade students. Luckily, the museum has more than 1,000 pieces, all of which are mostly tucked onto shelves and into glass cases.

Burnett accepts donations, and she usually receives them on a weekly basis. She’s had pieces come from as far as Israel, and visitors from as far away as Holland. And, according to Burnett, pink Pyrex pieces are the most difficult to find. One of the most popular pieces is the 1960s “butterfly gold” pieces, which are decorated with tiny butterflies and flowers in a bold pattern.

“I get donated pieces almost every week coming in,” she said. “It’s just unbelievable.”

Alison and Patrick Kneeland of California, came to visit downtown Bremerton because they knew the area was an art district with plenty to see.

“There’s so much of a collection,” said Alison Kneeland. “I love old stuff…people don’t realize how collectable it is.”

The Kneelands touched various bowls and pointed out various pieces they would add to their own nesting bowl collection if the pieces were for sale. After Burnett taped their reaction to seeing the collection, the couple asked her to take their photograph standing amongst the famed collection.

Patrick Kneeland agreed with his wife that the quality of the bowls is one of his favorite features of the dishware. “They’re functional,” he remarked.

“Nothing can compare,” Alison Kneeland said of the Pyrex pieces. “This just fed my little soul.”

When asked why people get so excited about what may be the tiniest museum in Bremerton, Burnett has a simple answer.

“It makes people so happy,” she said, video camera in hand, waiting for the next visitor to arrive.

Part of the happiness is walking into the museum and instantly being reminded of family gatherings, grandma’s kitchen or a favored bowl that still sits in the cupboard.

Celia Mailand came from Seattle to visit the museum that she’s been to multiple times. She often picks up Pyrex pieces from Goodwill, and she has several that she collected from her grandmother and mother.

“I love it,” she said, fingering a piece of glassware. “It’s really beautiful.”

The Pyrex Museum is located on Pacific Avenue between Amy Burnett Gallery and Claywerks Ceramics. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

The Pyrex Museum has been featured on the television show, Evening Magazine, five times, according to Burnett.

Burnett also has a new book out titled, “Pyrex World of Amy Burnett”, filled with photos and information of her various Pyrex pieces.

 

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