From Hergiswil to Seelisberg
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On the train line midway between Luzern and Stans is the small lakeside community of HERGISWIL, for centuries a fishing village until it rose to fame for the Glasi Hergiswil glassworks, founded in 1817. For over a hundred years, the glassworks was one of the busiest in the country, yet by 1975, it was hopelessly obsolete with no chance of matching the automated methods of more modern competitors. The Glasi would have closed altogether but for the move of Roberto Niederer, a Ticinese glass designer who, backed by local people, bought it up and changed its products and its target market. Niederer’s rejuvenation, continued today by his son, enabled the plant – and the village economy – to survive: it’s a remarkable success story. The “visitor-friendly” Glasi now employs a hundred people, producing hand-blown pieces for sale as well as serving as a workshop for artists from around the world to design and work with glass using traditional craft techniques.

The on-site museum (Mon–Fri 9am–noon & 1.30–5.30pm, Sat 9am–4pm; free) is excellent, focused around an engaging audiovisual walk-through history of glassmaking and the Glasi. The story ends as a door opens onto a gallery above the blazing-hot factory floor, where you can watch a team of glass-blowers do their stuff (although beware that they take a 4–4.30pm teabreak, and finish at noon on Saturdays).

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