Traveling has always been one of my passions. It exposes us to new cultures and experiences and makes the world a more tolerant place.
Located in the heart of the Emerald City at the Seattle Center is one of the most colorful and amazing collections of artwork that I have seen in quite a while. To be honest, I didn’t even know it was there until a recent visit to Seattle when my sister mentioned wanting to visit. I’m talking about the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit. This stunning collection of glass artwork by renowned artist Dale Chihuly sits literally in the shadow of Seattle’s other more famous landmark, the Space Needle. If you have even the slightest bit of interest in glass artwork then make it a point to visit this exhibit.
I want people to be overwhelmed with light and color in a way they have never experienced.
— Dale Chihuly
Most of the works by Dale Chihuly are pretty difficult to describe due to their very intricate nature. He has mastered the art of architectural glass, a skill honed over many years of experimentation and taken it to limits never before seen. The sheer quantity of pieces that he has created along with the colorful detailed designs is certainly a testament to his artistic vision.
Born and raised in Tacoma, Washington, Chihuly became interested in blowing glass in the early 1960s and after receiving a Master of Fine Arts from the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design in 1968 he headed to the mecca of glass-blowing, Venice and the island of Murano. It was here at the famous Venini glass factory that he honed his skills and discovered the team approach to creating glass art. Just one glimpse at some of Chihuly’s sizable works will tell you that more than one individual is required to create these masterpieces.
In the early 1970s, Chihuly returned to his roots in the Pacific Northwest and co-founded the Pilchuck Glass School, today an international center for education in the glass arts. The school is located on over fifty acres of beautiful Washington State terrain and hosts over 500 students and artists every summer.
Today one can still catch a glimpse of the Chihuly Glass Studios located in a rather nondescript grey Lake Union boat house. If you ever happen to be on Lake Union it’s worth the time to head over to see the outside of the studio from the water. Even though it’s not open to the public as it’s a working studio you can catch a glimpse of some of the artwork hanging on display inside the building. The studio was actually the former home of Chihuly and they do host a few events and tours for charity every year.
The Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum opened in May of 2012 at the Seattle Center. The exhibit contains both indoor and outdoor glass artwork displays and I must say the place is absolutely astounding.
Plan on spending at least a couple of hours to see all of the galleries and the outdoor garden exhibits. The museum also has an interesting bookstore and the Collections Cafe should you wish to grab a bite to eat.
Sunday to Friday from 12 pm to 5 pm.
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Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm.
Adults: Up to age age 64: $32
Seniors age 65 and over: $27
Age 5 to 12: $19
Under age 5 is free
Washington State Residents: $27
If you are planning on spending the day at the Seattle Center you might consider a combination ticket that includes the Chihuly Museum and the Space Needle. The combo ticket is $49 for adults, $39 for seniors age 65 and older, and $34 for kids age 5 to 12.
The museum also offers a number of Gallery Talks and Tours, which are held daily at numerous time slots. These are complimentary with your admission ticket so inquire when visiting if you are interested.
I never met a color I didn't like.
— Dale Chihuly
Your tour will take you through eight large galleries that makeup the indoor exhibit, each containing artwork based on a different concept and design. The common theme is the magnificent display of color that Chihuly used in his artwork. Some pieces will leave you wondering how on earth they were created. After viewing the indoor exhibits and stopping at the small theater you will pass through the Glass House. This 40 foot tall conservatory contains a 100-foot long work of art suspended from the ceiling. As you gaze upward to admire the yellow, orange and red flowering sculpture you can’t help but notice the Space Needle staring down at you. As amazing as this sculpture was during the day I would love to return in the future to see the Glass House lite up at night, it must be quite a sight.
As you exit the Glass House you enter the expansive outdoor Garden. Here you will find the perfect combination of nature and artwork blended together in a symphony of color. You may find yourself questioning whether that funny looking flower is some new exotic species or an intricate piece of artwork? This place is truly amazing and extremely photogenic so be sure to bring your camera as photos are allowed in all of the exhibit rooms.
I can’t understand it when people say they don’t like a particular color. . . . How on earth can you not like a color?
— Dale Chihuly
After visiting the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit I must say that I have a newfound appreciation for this timeless craft. With his artwork located in museums, hotels, banks, universities and countless other public venues around the world I am certain to come across more of his work in the future and I look forward to seeing other exhibits of his artwork. Having not been familiar with Dale Chihuly and his work I can confidently say that this was one of the more pleasant surprises from our visit to the Emerald City. If you are planning a trip to the Seattle area be sure to include a visit to the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit, you will not be disappointed.
Questions & Answers
Question: How close is parking to the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum?
Answer: Parking can be an issue around the Seattle Center. If you are coming from the downtown area your best bet is to take the monorail. If not there area couple of parking garages around the Seattle Center including the Mercer Garage and the First Ave and Fifth Ave Garages. There is also valet parking at the base of the Space Needle. Good luck, the Chihuly Garden and Glass Nuseim is incredible and a must see.
© 2017 Bill De Giulio