Dale Chihuly has built a reputation as one of the great glass sculpture artists of the modern era. His beautiful, often whimsical works can be seen across the USA in more than just museums.
Modern buildings, botanical gardens and even a Las Vegas casino have Chihulys of their own, inspiring a niche group of travelers to seek out and enjoy these special pieces. Among the dozens of places to have commissioned his work, these are 10 of the best.
Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle, Washington
What better place to start than Chihuly’s home state? The artist was born in Tacoma in 1941 and he cemented himself as a glassblowing expert in the Evergreen State. The Chihuly Garden opened at Seattle Center in 2012 as a home base for some of his most significant works and features an impressive array of pieces.
Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, Washington
Being his birthplace, the Tacoma Art Museum has an extensive collection of the artist’s smaller works along with a few of significant personal provenance. Among the highlights is ‘Ma Chihuly’s Floats,’ originally an installation, then later donated to the museum in honor of his mother, Viola. The outdoor work is only on view during the summer months and brought inside once fall begins.
Bellagio, Las Vegas, Nevada
Perhaps Chihuly’s most significant and well-known work is this 2100-square-foot masterpiece hanging from the Bellagio’s ceiling. He continually is recognized for the piece, even when people don’t actually know his name. More than 2000 hand-blown blossoms are held up and spread out across a 10,000-pound steel armature. Every morning, a team of eight to 10 engineers cleans and inspects the piece. The Bellagio also has Vegas’ only Chihuly gift shop and remains one of only a few places in the city where you can see his work year-round, 24-7 for free.
Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
In 2002, the museum inaugurated its Donald W. Reynolds Visual Arts Center with a Chihuly exhibition, then purchased all of the works in June 2004. With a combination of the original exhibition and later gifts from Chihuly himself, one of the highlights is the 55-foot installation, ‘Eleanor Blake Kirkpatrick Memorial Tower,’ which rises in the interior of the building in a variety of blue and yellow hues.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana
The world’s largest children’s museum also happens to be home to one of Chihuly’s largest permanent sculptures: a vibrant 43-foot tower made up of more than 3,200 individual pieces. ‘Fireworks’ was built to enjoy from all angles as it reflects off a mirror from the ceiling and creates a central point through all levels of the museum. Once inspired by the piece, guests can explore glassblowing through two virtual exhibits.
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia
When one thinks of Chihuly in America, Finnish collaboration rarely comes to mind. But what makes Red Reeds on display at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts so interesting is that the piece was blown by his team at the Nuutäjarvi Glass Factory in Nuutäjarvi, Finland. The piece's glass yields superior clarity and use of the largest annealing ovens in the world. The chemical neodymium was also added to enhance the striking ruby red pigment of the glass. Lastly, water lilies, lotus and grasses were thoughtfully placed within the piece to highlight the natural inspiration.
Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus, Ohio
Chihuly’s take on nature comes to life in the largest collection of his work ever to grace a botanical garden. Pieces are set throughout the garden grounds and courtyard and act as a nice complement to the Conservatory’s other temporary installations. Expect lots of colors reflecting the four seasons.
Morean Arts Center, St. Petersburg, FL
The Morean Arts Center marked the first time a facility was purpose-built to highlight and immerse visitors in a range of his work. Lighting and height were tastefully used to build an experience unlike in an art museum or display setting. The range starts with a 20-foot sculpture at the entrance followed by pieces spanning many of Chihuly’s most popular series.
Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, Omaha, Nebraska
Perhaps one of his more interesting collections was inspired by the need to build a space where ‘people can meditate and find a moment of peace,’ according to the artist. It’s described as a place where ‘art and healing come together’ and the warm colors of the works are meant to provide serenity and tranquility. The main architectural element on display was inspired by late 17th century British techniques that help light pass through the glass, changing the shadow throughout the day.
You might also like:
Remington in the US: Where to see the legendary cowboy artist’s work
Banksy in the US: Where to see the subversive graffiti artist’s work
Meet the people who make Knoxville’s ‘Maker City’ culture