Thursday, February 14, 2013

Northwest Snapshot: Seattle Center's Chihuly Garden and Glass

What's not to love about a museum where the staff  encourages you to take pictures instead of scolding you for sneaking a few shots?

One of Seattle's newest museums, the Chihuly Garden and Glass is a colorful, delightful, and impeccably designed oasis tucked in the shadow of the Space Needle at Seattle Center, which is going through a bit of a renaissance itself.

Stop by for a cruise through the exhibition, a compact series of galleries featuring highlights of local and world-renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly's work. 

My personal favorite is the Northwest Room, the first main gallery, which  highlights early works by Chihuly that were inspired by Native American arts such as basketry and weaving.  In addition to the glass art, many of Chihuly's personal collection of Pendleton Indian trade blankets cover almost a whole wall in this room, and another wall features historic Edward S. Curtis photographs of Native Americans. 

And I am as awed by the stunning piece of wood that serves as a foundation for some glass work in the Northwest Room as I am awed by the art.  I can only imagine the size of the old growth tree it came from.

Progressing through the eight galleries, the colors and shapes get more elaborate and fanciful, reflecting Chihuly's evolution as an artist who continues to get commissions from around the globe.

The Glass Forest, one of Chihuly's earliest installations from 1971.

Native American basket and Chihuly glass work in Northwest Room

Detail of a Tower in the Sealife Room.

Glass balls blown in Finland for the Chihuly Over Venice exhibit.
 After enjoying the exhibition galleries, stop in the sophisticated Collections Cafe for a bite.  With an emphasis on local and seasonal fare, the menu offerings are quite tasty.  When I was there recently for lunch, I enjoyed the excellent spicy prawns and a big green salad spiked with nuts, fruit, and fine cheese.

Collections Cafe

A bit of whimsy adorns each table, which have pieces of knick knacks that Chihuly collected as a boy inset below glass in the middle of the table.  They hint at the creative and tireless eye and mind of this unique, pioneering glass artist.

A visit isn't complete without a stroll through the Glass House, inspired by two of Chihuly's favorite buildings - Sainte-Chapelle in Paris and the former Crystal Palace in London, and then the garden.  Alas my shots here are from a particularly drab and dreary Seattle winter day.  I'd like to be here just before sunset.

Looking skyward in the Glass House. Recognize the famous Seattle landmark?

When You Go
The Chihuly Garden and Glass is open seven days a week, from 11 am to 6 pm, and until 7 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.  Adult tickets are $26.  Click here for more details.  They also have lots of cool special events (check their website).


deborah@confessions of a craigslist junkie said...

Did you take these photos Jill? They are beautiful! I definitely want to visit the museum on my next trip home.

Ed said...

Wow this just looks amazing! In fact I just emailed the link to my wife and we will be visiting there shortly!...I am a huge fan of glass art and this looks like a wonderland..and allowed to take photos to boot! I am super excited...

jill said...

Thanks Deborah, yes I took all these photos. Take all my shots except a few that friends take who are with me on outings.

jill said...

Thanks Ed, yes take your wife, it's a very fun and colorful place. Thanks for sharing the link!

Anne said...

I love how the exhibit takes you through the stages of Chihuly's development over the years. I was there on a sunny day and you just don't want to stop staring at everything! The blue sky is perfect when you are out in the garden. Between this and Museum of Glass we are privileged to be here in the NW (amongst other reasons.)

martha said...

This brings me back to a chilly September day when you were gracious and kind enough to collect me at the airport and stay with you. The next day Mom and I went to the museum...the bright cheery colors, the amazing flowers and jolly was so lovely. It would have been better had you been able to come along.
xoxo Martha

Gayle said...

Jill, I just love your shot of the Space Needle above the glass display. Wonderful! I can’t wait to go see the museum and garden. Thanks for this post.

jill said...

Anne, can't wait to go there on a sunny day!

Gayle, thanks!

Martha, was lovely seeing you, sorry I couldn't join you that day but sure loved to see it later.

Lesley said...

Awesome and amazing and incredibly gorgeous. Thanks for sharing this. Perhaps on an upcoming Seattle trip...