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Where to See the Out-of-This-World Glass Art of Dale Chihuly

PHOTO: Ben Hider

With current exhibitions in New York, Kentucky, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and California—plus permanent collections on display at cultural institutions across the country—Chihuly’s prolific body of work has never been more accessible.

American artist Dale Chihuly, best known for his vibrantly-hued sculptures and installations that include hundreds of hand-blown glass pieces, is having a banner year, despite recent headlines. Here’s where to see the best of Chihuly right now.

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New York Botanical Garden

WHERE: New York City, New York

The first major Chihuly exhibition in New York City in more than a decade, the artist’s colorful, kaleidoscopic pieces transform the grounds of the New York Botanical Garden into a vivid Chihuly dreamscape. The large-scale installations, featuring works new and old from some of Chihuly’s most iconic series, project an otherworldly luminescence at Chihuly Nights, select evenings that NYBG stays open after dark.

Don’t miss the multi-colored neon installation in the Conservatory Courtyard, “Neon 206,” which was designed with the reflective qualities of the location in mind. A showcase of the artist’s drawings and early works rounds out the exhibition, which runs through October 29.

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Maker’s Mark Distillery

WHERE: Loretto, Kentucky

The second Chihuly exhibition to set up on the grounds of the historic Maker’s Mark estate in Kentucky within the last five years, highlights for this latest collaboration include the debut of the “Sapphire and Platinum Waterdrop Tower,” a 12-foot-tall tower featuring 23-karat gold paint on 325 hand-blown glass pieces and a dazzling “Sun” composed of more than 1,600 twisting red, orange and yellow glass pieces. “The Spirit of the Maker,” one of Chihuly’s signature “Persian Ceilings,” composed of 754 individual glass elements, is a permanent installation inside one of the property’s working barrel rooms.

The distillery is staying open late on Friday and Saturday evenings through the first weekend of October to host Dinner Tours—a distillery and art tour, followed by a meal at the distillery’s new restaurant, Star Hill Provisions. Reservations are required.

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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

WHERE: Bentonville, Arkansas

Finding the Chihuly installations at the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Arkansas is something of an art-seeking adventure. A loop trail through the woods (1.1 miles) leads to most of the pieces, including a site-specific iteration of Chihuly’s “Sun” series, composed of hundreds of spiral glass pieces in hues inspired by the Ozark forest. Another outdoor installation, featuring Chihuly’s “Niijima Floats,” is located in a pond on property, while the dramatic “Azure Icicle Chandelier,” which was designed specifically for Crystal Bridges, hangs inside the museum’s vaulted entrance.

Although the “Into the Forest” exhibit closes on November 13, the museum is planning on adding at least one of the pieces to its permanent collection—vote for your favorite here.

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Catalina Island Museum

WHERE: Avalon, California

A cornerstone of the Catalina Island Museum’s year-long celebration of its new, permanent home, the museum’s current Chihuly exhibit features both indoor and outdoor artworks, including a “Mille Fiori” garden, Chihuly’s “Seaforms” and “Red Reeds” series, and an “Aureolin Yellow Spire Chandelier” that was designed specifically for the Ada Blanche Wrigley Schreiner Building, which will welcome more than one million visitors over the course of its inaugural year.

The museum has partnered with the Catalina Island Company to offer a getaway package that includes round-trip boat transportation from select Southern California ports, accommodations, dining and spa credits, and admission to the museum, of course. Open through December 2017.

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Chihuly Garden and Glass

WHERE: Seattle, Washington

Since Dale Chihuly is from the Pacific Northwest, it’s only fitting that Seattle is home to a dedicated Chihuly art space. Featuring eight indoor galleries, as well as outdoor gardens and installations and a glass-enclosed structure called “The Glasshouse,” Chihuly Garden and Glass is at once intimate and grandiose. The collection features the artist’s own collection of Native American trade blankets alongside pieces from his “Tabac Baskets” collection, which were inspired by the blankets, as well as one of his largest suspended sculpture installations inside The Glasshouse—and everything in between, naturally.

Book a Hotel

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Museum of Glass

WHERE: Tacoma, Washington

Commissioned by the City of Tacoma, the Chihuly Bridge of Glass connects downtown Tacoma with the city’s Museum of Glass. The 500 foot-long pedestrian bridge is home to three distinct installations, including “Seaform Pavilion,” a ceiling installation composed of 2,364 hand-blown pieces from Chihuly’s “Seaform” and “Persian” series. The middle of the bridge is marked by a pair of 40-foot tall “Crystal Towers,” made from polyvitro crystals designed to withstand the elements, and which glow softly at night. The “Venetian Wall,” an 80-foot display case, showcases more than 100 glass sculptures by Chihuly, specifically, works from his “Ikebana,” “Putti,” and “Venetians” series. Additional works by Chihuly can be found in the museum’s permanent collection.

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Franklin Park Conservatory

WHERE: Columbus, Ohio

Having acquired a majority of the works from an early aughts exhibition of Chihuly’s art, the Franklin Park Conservatory has in total more than 70 pieces and installations in its collection, which are rotated throughout the conservatory’s various biomes and plant exhibitions. Highlights include the 16-foot-tall “Sun Tower,” composed of 666 pieces of hand-blown glass in orange, red, and yellow hues, as well as 14 pieces from Chihuly’s “Macchia” series, on display in the Chihuly Resource Center.

Master glass blowers offer demonstrations of their craft in an outdoor glassblowing pavilion, the Hot Shop, which is open seasonally (March through December).

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Morean Arts Center

WHERE: St. Petersburg, Florida

Last year, the Morean Arts Center unveiled a new venue for its expansive Chihuly Collection, which counts 18 installations (and many more individual pieces) as a part of its permanent collection. The custom-designed space is also home to the “Florida Rose Crystal Tower,” a 21-foot tower composed of more than 100 pieces of polyvitro, a lightweight, translucent plastic that’s another Chihuly signature material, and a Chihuly Collection Store that features prints and other custom works by the artist, as well as items by local artisans.

Located in St. Petersburg’s Central Arts District, the Morean Arts Center is also home to a Glass Studio & Hot Shop, where visitors can take a one-on-one workshop with a resident glass artist and watch glass-making demos most days (daily except for Monday).

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Oklahoma City Museum of Art

WHERE: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

This Oklahoma City arts institution is worthy of a pilgrimage for its robust Chihuly collection, some 1,400 individual pieces of glass, which have a permanent home in two galleries covering almost 6,000 square feet. And it’s impossible to miss “The Eleanor Blake Kirkpatrick Memorial Tower” when you first enter the Oklahoma City Museum of Art; composed of 2,100 individual pieces of hand-blown glass and standing 55 feet tall, it’s the tallest Chihuly tower in the world. In fact, the contemporary building was designed around this impressive structure, which took two-and-a-half weeks to install and is illuminated around the clock.

Chihuly-Corning-Museum-of-Glass
PHOTO: The Corning Museum of Glass
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Corning Museum of Glass

WHERE: Corning, New York

At the Corning Museum of Glass in Upstate New York, Chihuly works are sprinkled throughout the grounds, including the Glass Galleries and the newly-opened Contemporary Art and Design Galleries. Counting 46 pieces by Chihuly in the permanent collection, highlights include the “Fern Green Tower” in the admissions lobby and the “Erbium Chandelier with Gilded Putto,” which gets its cotton-candy hue from the rare-earth element erbium.

More unusual pieces include “The Corning Wall,” a stained-glass window (circa 1974) that Chihuly made with fellow glass artist James Carpenter to commemorate the flood that devastated Corning in 1972, and the museum’s collection of “Navajo Blanket Cylinders,” (circa 1975-76), one of Chihuly’s earliest series.

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Toyama Glass Art Museum

WHERE: Toyama, Japan

“Glass Art City, Toyama,” a permanent showcase of Chihuly art at the Toyama Glass Art Museum in Japan, is a culmination of more than 30 years of collecting the artist’s work, including, most recently, pieces from a master class that Chihuly himself led at the Toyama City Institute of Glass Art in July 2015. The resulting “Toyama Reeds” series is composed of glass reeds that measure up to 10 feet tall, and many of the small floats for the “Toyama Float Boat” installation are also a result of the creative collaboration. All of the installations in the collection were designed specifically for the museum.