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Visiting Chihuly Garden and Glass

I recently visited Chihuly Garden and Glass, an exhibition, garden and theater showcasing the life’s work of Dale Chihuly.

chihuly glass and space needle

The exhibit is new to the Seattle Center. It’s a permanent collection housed in a new building under the Space Needle–and it’s worth a visit. I was impressed with the size of the collection and with the variety of styles.

When I see a chandelier like these (Beneroya Hall has a couple, and there’s one in the foyer of Lincoln Center in Bellevue), I recognize it immediately as a Chihuly. I was lucky to see many of these pieces at the exhibit, and I got to see a film about how they’re made.

The neutral vessels in one room were delicate and subdued compared to what I imagine a Chihuly to be. They fit in perfectly with woven baskets.

The glass garden was a sight to behold. Chihuly’s work is organic and imperfect. These pictures can’t show the scale. The glass balls were about three feet high!

This breath-taking display was also larger than life. In the film about Chihuly, I saw him and his staff throwing similar floats into the water. Amazing! Floats were originally made to keep fishing nets afloat, so I know they must be durable. Still, it seemed so reckless. Great fun though. The beautiful floats in the film were sent downstream for an art installation on a small island and under a bridge.

boat and floats

Chihuly’s work fits into the natural environment and that’s probably why the glass garden was so mesmerizing. It was hard to separate the artificial from the living. In summer, this garden will be stunning!

I got to walk around Chihuly’s work, and even under it. The glasswork in the ceiling cast colorful shadows. I saw a similar installation in Tacoma, where a glass bridge welcomes visitors to the Museum of Glass.

Similar vessels were on display in a room where I got up close and could appreciate the variations in the glass colors and patterns.

I’ve taken a couple of glass-blowing classes and I have a true appreciation for the art and craft of glass art. It’s an amazing combination of creativity, physical labor and chemistry.

Jean at the museum

Have you been to a glass museum? I highly recommend Chihuly Garden and Glass if you’re ever in Seattle.

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