Chihuly groupies are spun from hot glass, hunting down the latest Dale Chihuly glass art installations and traveling the world to see these exhibits. Read how Vegetarian TravelingMom found herself seeking out more and more Chihuly glass.
My obsession started small. First, it was a display the Desert Botanical Garden, in Phoenix. Then I saw more Chihuly glass art at the Dallas Arboretum, in Texas. Soon, I was a junkie, looking for my next fix. The Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Chihuly Garden and Glass at Seattle Center in Seattle. Then I finally hit the jackpot and went to Tacoma, Washington, where Dale Chihuly was born.
Immersed in Glass
In Tacoma, you can immerse yourself in glass art. There are museums devoted to glass art. There is a glass art hotel. (With comfy mattresses!) And there is even a glass art bridge. The only thing missing is a glass bottom boat ride, but maybe an entrepreneur will start that.
The Museum of Glass
This museum is almost as interesting outside as in. It has a unique 90 foot tall cone, which houses live glassblowing demonstrations inside. It also has reflecting pools outside, with glass sculptures. Inside, you can see exhibits on glass jewelry and glass art. Kids are likely to be mesmerized by the Hot Shop glassblowing.
The gift shop has a gorgeous selection of jewelry for sale.
Chihuly Bridge of Glass
This pedestrian overpass links the Museum of Glass to the rest of downtown Tacoma. The bridge is a riot of color, and free to cross.
The Chihuly bridge is lit at night, so try to see it during the day and at night.
Tacoma Art Museum
The Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) focuses on Northwest art. Luckily for the glass art fan, this means lots of art glass. There is a Dale Chihuly collection, with over 100 pieces of his art. Every late spring to early fall, the museum has a huge Chihuly installation in the courtyard. There is an even larger collection of glass art from the Pilchuck Glass School.
TAM also has large exhibit devoted to glass jewelry. And it has playful outdoor sculptures. The museum cleverly placed Explorers, a sculpture of an eaglet and a bear cub, in front of the museum. What kid wouldn’t want to go into the museum after seeing this?
The museum also has noteworthy wing opening in early 2018, featuring the Haub Family Collection of Western American Art. I saw highlights of the collection, which include sculptures, paintings and drawings.
Glass Art Hotel: Hotel Murano
A day trip from Venice, Italy, the island of Murano is renowned for its glassblowing. The Hotel Murano, in Tacoma, evokes this focus on glass. The boutique hotel is devoted to glass art. In the lobby, you will see a Chihuly vase. On the mezzanine level, you can see pencil drawings by Chihuly. Throughout the Hotel Murano, glass art is celebrated. And the public is invited to explore the lobby and mezzanine. The hotel has collaborations with both the Tacoma Art Museum and the Museum of Glass. It also has a striking glass check-in desk and sculptural glass sinks in the lobby bathrooms.
But staying at the hotel, you see in even more glass art. Each floor features a different glass artist.
Artistry in a Glass
Harmon Brewing Company doesn’t have specialty glasses, but it does carefully craft the beers it serves. Harmon uses local hops for its excellent IPAs, pale ales and porters. We tried a flight of seasonal beers and a flight of perennial best sellers. Not that much beer ultimately; my husband and I took just a few sips of each. But we were impressed by the wide range of beer styles and the elevated pub food designed to soak up the beer.
See it now!
The New York Botanical Garden, in the Bronx, NY, has large scale installations in place until the end of October. The installation, integrated into fountains and flora, is best seen both during the day and at night. So you have to visit twice. Don’t worry. It’s worth it.
Chihuly Nights, on select nights throughout the run, include live music and a cocktail bar.
Note: I was a guest of Travel Tacoma, which covered my stay at the Hotel Murano. Opinions expressed are my own.