Dock Street, the home of Tacoma’s glass museum. Topped with a distinctive steel cone, it’s been open since 2002 and has been the focus for the Pacific Northwest Studio Glass Movement. It has also become the only American museum exhibiting glass in a contemporary art form.
As such, it takes its place alongside three other glass museums Worldwide. But the amazing exhibits are not just reserved for its impressive interior. As part of the Museums Permanent Collection of 20th and 21st century artistic glass, Fluent Steps by Martin Blank, spans the entire length of one of the external plazas. This visually stunning, fluid structure gives the visitor a powerful hint of further remarkable glass art forms within.
Right from the start, the whole concept of this magnificent building strikes you as something totally different. And that even begins with your admission ticket. After purchase, the sticker on the end of the ticket (date stamped) is removed and applied to your clothing. Retaining your ticket and keeping the sticker visible, enables you to be re-admitted on the same day. Rather clever.
Once you’re in, why not make straight for the World’s biggest Hot Shop Amphitheatre inside the giant cone. This is the only internal part of the museum where photography is welcomed. And it is well worth taking advantage of.
It’s here you’ll be able to witness the incredible art of glass making from its raw, molten beginnings to finished article. Not to mention the occasional frustrating events in between, as the artists push their medium to its limits, in pursuit of their finished, fragile works of art.
This, coupled with an expert, on-hand narrator, for any questions and “live” video screen showing close-ups, makes for a visually entertaining afternoon.
On the day of our visit, the teams’ project involved a set of glass shells for a complete drum kit. Witnessing this whole, seemingly impossible process from start to finish, and the meticulous care and patience displayed by the team was an inspiration for all.
After the Hot Shop, the next logical stop is the Glass Galleries. Within is a stunning collection from World renowned artists, and subtle lighting and quiet background sound effects, makes it a memorable audio-visual experience.
The Studio also enables the visitor to be creative on their own. With the help of volunteers, who will ensure the right materials are at hand, you can release any dormant artistic talents. All you need is a little inspiration to get started and age is not a barrier.
Depending on the time of your visit, the pangs of hunger could well take hold. If so, visit Gallucci’s Glass Cafe.
The varied menu caters for all tastes with weekly specials including soups, desserts and tamales – all homemade. If you visit the museum on a Friday, order a boxed lunch and take it with you to watch an artist being creative in the Hot Shop.
While taking in the inspiring glass displays, why not treat yourself to a lasting memento from the Museum Store. Leading artists’ work from the Northwest and Worldwide is readily available. Educational and books about glass making, artists, and art in general as well as jewelry and wearable glass art are all supplied from a huge range.
For those keen on a little exercise, the museum offers Chihuly Walking Tours. This is the ultimate way to take in Dale Chihuly’s public art forms across downtown Tacoma. The walks leave at 2pm from the museum front desk. From $10 – $25, which includes museum entry, the price is great value for money.
Of particular note is the Chihuly Bridge of Glass. This 500 ft. pedestrian overpass links the museum with downtown Tacoma via a tunnel of light and brilliant, vivid colour.
The bridge was designed by Arthur Andersson, architect of the Washington State History Museum, in close collaboration with Dale Chihuly. Thus enabling the artist to contribute a very public display of his World renowned talent to his hometown. For more information on this please go to www.chihuly.com/bridgeofglass and for further information on the museum: firstname.lastname@example.org.