It was a special night in Bellaire, as the National Imperial Glass Museum is celebrating their 20th anniversary.

The events kicked off at 4 p.m. Thursday with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

This year’s Annual National Imperial Glass Convention will last throughout the weekend and will feature a former employees panel, seminars, a formal banquet and hundreds of glass enthusiasts from all across the country.

The National Imperial Glass Museum is dedicated to preserving the history of the Imperial Glass Corp, paying homage to its employees, educating the public and providing research opportunities.

“We keep some things on permanent display and then we always have new things and new displays each year. This year, we’re also celebrating the 100th anniversary of Imperial making the line that was called Freehand. And it was completely handmade glass, no mold, no intervention. It’s considered it to be some of the finest American-made art glass and right up there with the glass of Louis Comfort Tiffany, Steuben, Quezal and Durand.”

Kathy Turner, President, National Imperial Glass Collectors Society

Imperial Glass was a driving force in the area’s economy for nearly a century. The company began producing glass in 1904 and employed thousands of people over the years.

According to local historians–it was once the world’s largest hand-made glass factory.