Just steps from the base of the Space Needle, fans of Dale Chihuly's glass works will be delighted to trace the artist's early influences—neon art, Native American Northwest Coast trade baskets, and Pendleton blankets, to name a few—to the vibrant chandelier towers and architectural glass installations he is most known for today. There are eight galleries total, plus a 40-foot-tall Glasshouse and an outdoor Garden, which serves as a backdrop for colorful installations that integrate with a dynamic Northwest landscape, including native plants and a 500-year-old Western Cedar that washed up on the shores of Neah Bay. Chihuly, who was born and raised in Tacoma, was actively involved in the design of the exhibition as well as the whimsical Collections Cafe, where you'll find Chihuly's quirky personal collections on display—everything from tin toys to vintage cameras to antique shaving brushes. Indeed, so many of his personal touches are part of the exhibition space, you can almost feel his presence in every room (look for the guy with the unruly hair and the black eyepatch). Chihuly is kid-friendly for all but the littlest ones.
Oct 20, 2014
My spouse and I visited Chihuly Gardens and Glass on a Monday morning in early August 2014. You can purchase tickets on-line prior to your visit, either for the Chihuly museum on its own, or as a combination ticket that allows entry to the Space Needle also. Allow one to two hours to explore the museum, depending on your level of interest. The facility offers a coat / bag check. To reach this museum located in Seattle Center, you can take the Monorail
from Westlake Station, other public transportation, or you can drive your car. Several public parking lots are located in the area, and valet parking is available at the Space Needle. The museum also offers a theater, a gift shop (with the focus on books), and a cafe (which accepts reservations via the Open Table system). The Dale Chihuly museum is located in the artist’s native Seattle, where as a boy, Chihuly searched for sea glass on the shores of Puget Sound, and later at his boathouse on Lake Union. Chihuly learned about glass while studying interior design at the University of Washington. After he graduated, he enrolled in the first glass program in the country at the University of Wisconsin. He continued his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he later taught for more than a decade. Chihuly received a Fulbright Fellowship, and worked at the Venini glass factory in Venice. Later, he cofounded Pilchuck Glass School in Washington. The museum, which opened in 2012, features three separate areas: the galleries, the glasshouse, and the gardens. The eight galleries offer a comprehensive collection of Chihuly’s significant work. The art in the galleries is permanent; the pieces do not rotate. The glasshouse (conservatory / greenhouse), the centerpiece of the museum, is a 40-foot tall, glass and steel structure that covers 4,500 square feet of space. The major work in the glasshouse is an expansive 100-foot long sculpture in a color palette of reds, oranges, and yellows that hangs suspended from the ceiling. The outdoor garden is anchored by four monumental sculptures, and it features paths lined with trees, plants, and flowers whose color and specimen selection seem tailored to the art pieces that they surround. The garden features installations called the Crystal and Icicle, Reeds on Logs, and the Sun. Also, don’t miss the enormous tall flowers that are on display outside of the Pacific Science Center. We have seen other Chihuly exhibits, such as the lobby ceiling at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, and the exhibit at Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, but this entire museum dedicated to the works of Dale Chihuly was amazing! Highly recommended!