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Chihuly Garden and Glass: Unlock Your Creativity
July 24, 2023 By CityPASS
Seattle is packed with spectacular sights, but Chihuly Garden and Glass is in a class of its own. Nestled next to the famed Space Needle at Seattle Center, Chihuly Garden is widely regarded as one of the city's greatest art museums — and once you see it, it's easy to see why.
Chihuly Garden and Glass: A Seattle Artistic Gem
The time-honored tradition of glassblowing comes to life at the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit in Seattle. This dazzling space showcases the stunning glass art of Dale Chihuly, a renowned Seattle, Washington-based artist with work in more than 200 museum collections worldwide. Chihuly is considered an innovator for pushing the boundaries of glass sculpture as an art medium.
Chihuly started developing this exhibition after receiving an invitation from the prominent Wright family (best known for building the Space Needle). Working closely with The Center Art Foundation, Chihuly decided it would be most environmentally responsible to repurpose the existing Exhibition Hall building, create a garden space, and add a glass house as the focal point. The Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition debuted in 2012.
Today, visitors can view eight glass exhibit galleries and three Drawing Walls, which display a comprehensive collection of Chihuly's most significant work.
After a 1976 accident left him without vision in his left eye and lacking the depth perception necessary to safely blow glass around others, Chihuly put pencil to paper as an outlet for his creative energy. As he drew more and branched into watercolors and acrylics, his drawing began influencing his glassblowing and playing a huge part in the evolution of his work. You can see this on display in the Drawing Walls exhibit.
Glass Forest Gallery
Kids and art lovers alike will adore the Glass Forest gallery, which features a vivid collection of colorful, confounding creations that demonstrate the endless potential of glassblowing.
Persian Ceiling Room
Upon entering the Persian Ceiling Room, you might notice rainbows dancing on the walls before you look up and discover their source — a glass ceiling brimming with backlit pieces of all shapes and colors.
Float Boat and Sea Life Room
Growing up in the Pacific Northwest instilled Chihuly with love for the ocean, and the Sea Life room reflects that love. This gallery is inspired by aquatic colors, textures, and creatures. The Sea Life tower stands 20 feet high, a spectacle of blue-hued spirals ensconcing translucent seashells, starfish, and other treasures one might find when exploring under the ocean.
You'll also see the beloved Float Boats, which Chihuly modeled after Finnish rowboats. Chihuly filled the Float Boats with large glass objects inspired by the Japanese fishing floats he collected as a child.
Want to supplement your museum experience? Check out the museum's engaging audio tour featuring Chihuly himself — in addition to other artists, exhibit partners, and Kyle MacLachlan (yes, the actor!). The guide is freely available online and includes separate tracks for each gallery room.
Immersive Art Experience in The Glasshouse
Constructed of curved glass and steel covering 4,500 square feet of sun-kissed gallery space, the 40-foot-tall Glasshouse is the centerpiece of the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition. This architectural marvel is an homage to conservatories, for which Chihuly has an enduring appreciation.
The Glasshouse is home to one of Chihuly's largest suspended glass sculptures. You'll be mesmerized by an intricate 100-foot display winding overhead like a vine, bursting with vibrant red, orange, and yellow blossoms. This sculpture changes with the sky, casting shadows and catching light through the glass walls. People often book this space for private events. So, check the closures list before your visit.
Nature and Art Intersect in The Garden
Chihuly Garden and Glass Seattle is no ordinary art museum. This will become even more apparent when you wander outside to find 26,000 square feet of lush landscaped gardens filled with rare blue poppies, coral-colored Japanese maple trees, the unmistakable scent of honeysuckle, and extraordinary outdoor sculpture installations.
The huge selection of plants is carefully curated to complement Chihuly's garden art, which he created specifically for this enchanting space.
In the garden, glass art melds with nature in a whimsical way: tangerine tendrils emerge from a bed of verdant shrubs, cerulean blue stems reach for the sky, and golden orbs reflect the Space Needle above. At a certain point, you almost forget the difference between glass and grass — all that matters is the magic.
Live Glass Demos
Glassblowing takes a bit (okay, a lot) of practice. To start learning about the glass art process, visit the retrofitted 1967 Airstream that houses the Community Hot Shop. Here, local artists lead live glass demonstrations and mold molten glass into works of art before your eyes. Stick around after the demonstration for a question-and-answer session.
You'll find demonstration times on the Chihuly Garden and Glass website.
Gifts to Inspire: The Shop
You'll find the perfect gift for any art aficionado (or yourself) at The Bookstore, which offers a wide selection of unique items. Most of the merchandise features Chihuly's art or is created by his team members at Chihuly Studio.
Flip through gorgeous hardcover art books worthy of the classiest coffee table, invest in hand-signed fine art prints and Studio Edition Glass pieces, or purchase a Chihuly Blanket that combines pure wool and spool-spun cotton in the style of Native American trade blankets.
The Bar at Chihuly Garden and Glass
Complete your memorable museum day at The Bar, an exhibition-adjacent establishment with a seasonal menu of craft cocktails and delectable dishes. The Bar works with regional spirit artisans and sources local ingredients for an authentic Seattle experience.
Bonus: Everything at The Bar comes with a side of art. The Bar is the only place in the world that displays more than 25 of Dale Chihuly's personal collections, and its centerpiece is an illuminated installation of his distinctive drawings.
Unleash Your Creativity at Chihuly Garden and Glass
Chihuly Garden and Glass is one of the top Seattle museums for many reasons — and for many people, too. Kids and adults will revel in the sheer splendor of the Glasshouse, lose themselves in the flourishing gardens, and find endless inspiration for their own creative endeavors.
Ready to start planning your Seattle visit, like, yesterday? Seattle CityPASS® tickets offer an incredible value for entry to Chihuly Garden and Glass, plus huge savings on up to four other popular Seattle things to do like the Space Needle and Seattle Aquarium. Let CityPASS lead the way to a convenient, affordable, unforgettable trip. You deserve it!
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Header image All Copyrights Reserved, Dale Chihuly 2023.