Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington (Where Gumbo was #285)


Located near the docks, the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington is a mecca for glass bowers and glass creators around the world.  While the hours are relatively short (10-5), it is a great location for an education and feast for the eyes about glass creations.

The only one to solve last weeks travel puzzle was George G, who has earned our congratulations!

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The interior of the museum has 6 display galleries, along with a studio where you can learn how to fuse glass and participate in creating a tube for the Hive! Facing the freeway, are several exhibits created from children's art.  Kids create the drawings, and then the Hot Shop artists turn it into a glass sculpture.

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The Hot Shop is a demonstration and exhibit space, where you feel the heat while you watch glass blowers ply their trade. The incredible heat is drafted upward by the more than 90 foot high stainless steel cone. There is a 360 degree observation gallery, where you can sit and watch the artists working. The 2300 degree furnaces (5 doors opened into the 2 major furnaces) burn constantly, providing the heat to melt the glass and allow it to be shaped, molded, and color fused. Glass sculptors come from all over the world to work here, and in fact there are more glass blowers in Tacoma, Washington per capital than anywhere else in the world. While it is super hot in the summer given outdoor temperatures, it is mesmerizing to watch the glass flow and mold into never ending shapes.

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The main exhibit galleries show the works of a steel and glass artist (Albert Paley), who has a couple dozen works on display. While you can get super close, touching is not allowed! There is a permanent collection of Dale Chihuly, with some truly awe-inspiring and exquisitely beautiful creations, along with the famous Gibson chandelier.

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"Foraging in the Hive", a collaborative exhibit that includes an apiary, comprised of test-tubes that are created by visitors to the museum. You go into the studio and place a momento or found object into the test tube, which is then suspended from the ceiling to create an ever-changing exhibit. The exhibition, unexpectedly, continues outside the museum!

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Yes, there is a Chihuly Bridge of Glass -- a bridge across the freeway and railroad tracks houses an amazing collection of Chihuly art. The three sections include The Venetian Wall, which is a multi-tiered installation of glass pieces, all set behind seemingly bulletproof thick glass, but displayed such that sunlight filters through, and traffic is racing by below! A very visually jarring experience. You walk a little further and see a couple of tall sculptures (Crystal Towers) which are large blocks of blue, turquoise and green glass set in steel, again filtering the outdoor light.

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The third part of the exhibit is the Seaform Pavillion, which has literally hundreds of Chihuly glass pieces suspended across the ceiling within a large glass box, that creates a collage of filtered, colored light above you as the glass pieces reflect and refract the light. A most unexpected treat--similar to the ceilings of the Bellagio casino in Las Vegas.

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In front of the museum are two additional exhibits:  The Water Forest, which is made up of clear acrylic and bronze tubes that have water pumped through and then cascading down over the side. The final exhibit is "Fluent Steps", a series of 4 scupture islands, set within a pool of water, that creates a fabulous reflection of the glass in the water. These islands of glass just above the water create a beautiful background for the cone of the museum Hot Shop, and a beautiful end to the experience.

Note:  Active duty military are free during the summer!


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