On a recent trip to Seattle, we had the opportunity to visit the Chihuly Garden and Glass. The exhibition opened at the Seattle Center in 2012. A Washington native, Dale Chihuly is a world renowned glass artist with current displays all over the world. We have both been lucky enough to see his works at a few other exhibits and have been blown away each time, so this was high on our list of places to visit.
The Exhibit is divided into three main areas: The Interior Exhibits, the Glasshouse and the Gardens.
This room is subdued, but eye catching as its only piece is designed with neon colors. For those that are unfamiliar with Chihuly, it is here you will be introduced to the size and scale of some of his designs as well as to the black plexiglass base that is used to display many of his works.
For the Glass House piece, he teamed up with Mr. James Carpenter, a colleague of his at the Rhode Island School of design. They were interested to see what designs could come from their differing backgrounds-combining Carpenter’s background of architecture, light and sculpture with Chihuly’s background in textile and sculpture. These forms were made from standing atop a ladder and letting the glass drop down while inducing neon into the pieces.
The Northwest Room:
Cylinders, Baskets & Soft Cylinders
Chihuly’s goal here was to make Indian Baskets out of glass. He discovered that he could push the boundaries of glass forms using fire and gravity. Pushing the ability to form glass to the edge, just short of collapse, he was able to get the glass thin enough to create new forms that mimic the patterns and designs from Native American culture.
This room reflects Mr. Chihuly’s love of the sea. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, he always had a love of the water. He saw a lot of similarity between the movement of water and movement of molten glass. Although sea life is only occasionally featured in chandeliers and towers, he designed this 20 ft tower to show how important water was to his work.
This is a room where we spent quite a lot of time just staring in awe at this magnificent tower.
Created and sculpted by Dale Chihuly and Martin Blank. Walking into the walkway with this eye-popping ceiling sort of catches one off guard. Your eyes are immediately drawn to the top of the room.
You will be surprised at how long you will stand around with your eyes glued to the plethora of remarkable Persian glass designs erected in the ceiling. Although you will recognize many of the designs, you will stand in amazement at others contemplating just who were those geniuses who dreamed such a thing.
Inspired by glass blowing processes and places he’d visited over the years, this piece combines common shapes found routinely in nature with bright primary colors.
Ikebana and Float Boats:
The inspiration for this one came while in Nuutajarvi, Finland while he was working for his exhibition Chihuly Over Venice. He stood on a bridge and threw glass into the water to experiment with its reaction to the glass. Local teens would pick up the glass pieces and place them in row boats. Chihuly liked how his glass looked in the boats which led to the creation of these these pieces.
The concept was inspired by a chandelier he had seen at a restaurant in Barcelona, which was the first time he had seen one at eye level. It was then he got the idea that chandeliers could be made without being functional, just serving as a decoration. A chandelier was first displayed for an exhibit in 1992 at the opening exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum. His chandeliers can be anywhere from three to 30 feet long and can contain as many as 1,000 pieces.
Chihuly was very excited when an expanded color palate was available to him through use of the German colors. Originally, only available for the stained glass industry, he was determined to use all the 300-400 colors that were newly available to him in this exhibit. Macchiato means spotted in Italian.
The glasshouse is the centerpiece of the center. It is 4,500 sq ft and 40 ft tall. It holds a red, orange. amber and yellow 100 ft sculpture , which is one of Chihuly’s biggest.
The garden surrounds the glass house and was our favorite part of the exhibit. On a nice day, allow time for walking along the lined paths between the sculptures. We spent about an hour roaming around the gardens, but could have easily spent longer if time had permitted.
Depending when you visit, consider bringing your own snacks. There is a cafe on site, but is usually very busy.
No selfie sticks are allowed, but they do have employees stationed in the various galleries that are eager to take your picture for you.
The exhibit is open Monday-Thursday 9:00 am -9:00 pm and Friday and Saturday 9:00 am – 10:00 pm.
Admission is considered pricey at $27 for ages 13-above with reduced admission for Seniors, Youth and Locals. Costs can be reduced by buying a Seattle CityPass or by buying admission to the Space Needle at the counter.