There is a garden in Seattle like no other. Tucked among real plants are “trees, orbs, and rods” – all made of brilliantly-colored glass, like they were planted by fairies. Visitors walk among the sculptures, many at eye-level. They interplay with real foliage in a blaze of summer and fall colors. That’s not all. Beside the fairy garden is the Glass Museum which houses a stunning tableau of glass forms that evokes a feeling of bounty from the sea. Here, the intensity of exuberant colors and intricate ‘marine life forms’ build as one move through the galleries, culminating in the stunning Persian Ceiling, a series of flat glass panels resembling Persian rugs or tapestries.
These delightful objects in the Seattle Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum is work of Dale Chihuly (b. 1941). Chihuly is an American glass sculptor originally from Tacoma, Washington. His work in the field of blown glass has been described as transformative, with many art critics saying that he has elevated the work from decorative arts into the realm of sculpture. His most iconic works reflect the influence of the Pacific Northwest and the sea, and his lifelong interest in botanical forms. Chihuly’s works has also been exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, the Singapore Art Museum and Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay.
Artworks at the Chihuly Museum and Garden
The glass sculptures of Dale Chihuly at the Chihuly Museum and Garden in Seattle is told through displays in eight indoor galleries, a glasshouse, and an outdoor garden in the shadow of the Space Needle. The gallery journey begins with Glass Forest, an early work done in collaboration with a colleague from the Rhode Island School of Design.
Next is the Sealife Tower that brims with the exuberant colors of marine-life forms.
Following the Sealife Tower is the magnificent Persian Ceiling gallery.
Adjacent to this vivid work is the Mille Fiori (Italian for “a thousand flowers”) installation – a room-length garden of glass. Chihuly says that memories of his mother’s garden inspired this work.
After Mille Fiori, visitors are treated to a constellation of chandeliers that seem to orbit around a white tower of light. Pictured below is one of these chandeliers in brilliant hue.
The next display is the jewel-toned Macchia Forest series which Chihuly started in 1981. His intention was to use all 300 colors available to him in his workshop. Macchia is the Italian word for “spot.”
Out of the dimly-lit galleries, the visitor enters the atrium of a gigantic Glasshouse. The glass ceiling hangs enormous clusters of orange, amber and yellow flowers. At 100 feet long, this assemblage is one of Chihuly’s largest suspended sculptures.
Outside the Glasshouse is a luxuriate garden of blooming real flowers and plants mingling with glass foliage ablaze in the colors of summer and fall.