Monday, February 17, 2014

Touring while Local: Chihuly Garden and Glass

Dale Chihuly is widely known as being a master of squiggly glass sculptures. While today he is not directly involved in the production of the glass that he is known for (He considers himself more of a "director"), the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit at the Seattle Center contains the bulk of his corpus of work. If you are a fan of Chihuly, this is your place.*

The price to get in is $19, which is a buck more than going up the Space Needle. There are combo passes available that make it slightly cheaper to do both ($33 for both. If you are coming all the way to Seattle and doing the tourist sites, how could you not do the Space Needle?). King County residents get in for the low, low price of $15 per person (and they didn't even check our IDs to confirm it). Once inside, there is about an hour plus of things to see, perhaps a little more if you become absorbed into the artwork.

I can definitely see how much of this was groundbreaking and experimental when it was first coming out and becoming popular. There are plenty of vivid colors and shapes that come together to create the scenes and the larger sculptures are impressive from a technical standpoint: There are hundreds of pieces suspended from a metal "skeleton" and each time it is moved to a new location, the exact shape and composition of the sculpture changes. On the other hand, it does feel a little like his work is pretty mainstream now and the video at the end of him "directing" feels a little ludicrous: 15 minutes of someone telling a team of minions "No, move it three inches to the left" is supposed to be mind altering art? At times the museum comes off as a little too pretentious. As if anything done by Chihuly is automatically the highest example of art that you have ever had the honor of witnessing.

Being from Seattle, I think that there is a bit of Chihuly burnout. We have had his stuff all over Seattle and the region for years, but for many people this may be their first time seeing it. It IS impressive and many people who visit Seattle visit the museum rate it very highly. In fact, right now this is the number one attraction in Seattle on TripAdvisor.

*If you like glass in general and would like to see a broader collection, you may also consider the Museum of Glass in Tacoma. While there, there is also the new LeMay Car Museum and the Tacoma Museum of Art


  1. Wonderful glass art.
    I've seen beautiful delicate glass artwork in Burano, Italy. But nothing so wild!

  2. I took my mother-in-law last summer and she absolutely loved it. The amount of work that went into all those pieces is absolutely mind boggling. Amazing place to go!