Paul Stankard started out his career as a scientific glassblower fabricating condensers and modified flasks. "I was always playing and felt creative in glass," says Stankard, a South Jersey native who today is known for his modern approach to the region's tradition in glass paperweights. "I started experimenting with paperweights, and my work evolved artistically." Last December, the Akron Art Museum acquired 64 pieces of his work — the largest public Stankard collection in the world — from Cleveland's Mike and Annie Belkin. In October, the museum began exhibiting 32 pieces at a time. Stankard's flame-worked, softball-size glass pieces contain masks or tiny words intermingled among plant roots, and each sphere or cube contains renditions of natural elements, almost as if a berry, leaf or insect is preserved in the glass. "I would like to think my work offers visual experiences and visual joy to people of all backgrounds," he says. Stankard is honored to see all the pieces together in one collection. "I remember my mom taking me to the museum when I was 7 or 8 to share with me what she thought was beautiful," says Stankard, now 68. "My joy is thinking other families will make it an outing and that the collection becomes a source of sharing beauty with their children."