Chihuly Bowls

Chihuly Garden & Glass Review – A Colorful Seattle Surprise

Posted on Posted in Art, Seattle
This Chihuly would look great in my house!
This Chihuly would look great in my house!

Colorful glass has always fascinated me – drawn in by the shapes, the bright colors and the way that the light changes the piece.  I have yet to take a glassblowing class maybe in fear of being clumsy around hot glass, pokers, etc. (I wonder what the insurance liability waiver looks like for that class?)  After my visit to the Chihuly Gardens and Glass, I may just conquer the fear and sign up for a class nearby. If anything, it might produce a very abstract piece of glass.

I wasn’t quite keen to visit a glass gallery and gardens if I’m honest.  Despite the concierge recommendation and being ranked #1 on TripAdvisor i thought what’s so special about this glass exhibit when I’ve been to Venice and seen the artisans at Murano?  But I figured I’d give it a shot to kill an hour before i go to lunch.  Located next to the Space Needle, the Chihuly Gardens and Glass is easy to locate and without a line on a summer Wednesday, a quick entry.

The Chihuly Glass Museum

Who was this Chihuly guy? Why hadn’t I heard of him?  How did he get this showcase in Seattle?  Just a few questions to answer on my visit.  With my ticket in hand, I proceeded down the hall to the start the tour.  I was told that photos are encouraged and flash is allowed, ok, that was a good thing and this was a bit promising.

Then I turned the corner to start my visit and was struck by the colors and lights and quickly adjusted the camera’s settings to capture the glass using no flash in low light.

Glass Forest Chihuly
Glass Forest at Chihuly

From then on, i was captivated with each new room and my quick tour would be derailed as i moved in awe of the glass displays, the sculptures, his private collections and the installations.

Chihuly Sealife
Chihuly Sealife pieces

The Sealife room contained seashells, sea creatures and water in glass.  There were also sketches along the wall of what the imagined sculpture should be next to the finished actual piece.

Glass -Sea themed Chihuly
A funnel of glass under the sea – starfish, shells, water
Chihuly Sea theme
Chihuly – artist sketch and actual piece on display

The Colors of Chihuly

A burst of color shining out of the next room called to me to look up.  The Persian ceiling was clear glass and filled with colorful glass objects each arranged and emitting colors everywhere.

Chihuly ceiling of color
Chihuly ceiling of color

I really didn’t think it could get better than this, I had taken so many photos of glass in various artistic forms and of course, I was wrong.  Really wrong as I entered the inside garden display called Mille Fiori, Italian for 1,000 flowers.  The size of a small hotel ballroom, the display in the middle just overtakes you as you don’t know which side to start, where to look and what’s hidden inside. Your imagination is on overload trying to see the grass, the water, the flowers, the snakes, the frogs and other garden surprises. I spent the bulk of my time here first walking around to really view it, then with my camera in an attempt to capture the experience, finally using video to take away and view later.

Chihuly indoor garden
Chihuly indoor garden
Chihuly Indoor Garden
Chihuly Indoor Garden
Chihuly Indoor Garden
Chihuly Indoor Garden
Colorful garden of glass at Chihuly
Colorful garden of glass at Chihuly
Chihuly Garden of Glass
Displays of color in a garden of glass

Thinking that the Mille Fiori was the pinnacle of the visit, I turned another corner only to have another “Wow” moment.   The boat room was stunning.  Looking at the colors, the reflections, the placement of the glass and the lighting made this room one of my favorites.

Glass boat Chihuly
gives new meaning to glass boat – colorful interpretation in the water

Chihuly Chandeliers

The chandelier room was yet another room to marvel at the sheer size of the displays as well as the intricate shapes, twists and what must be weight of the pieces.  After my time in this room and the ceiling room, I realized that I’ve seen this type of glass displays before at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas and the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City.  So i was familiar with the artist’s work but just not his name.

Chandelier Room at Chihuly
Chandelier Room at Chihuly
Chandelier at Chihuly
Chandelier Room at Chihuly

Chihuly Gardens

The last room before the gardens would be the conservatory (glass house) which displayed a ceiling piece the length of the room and while looking up you could see the Space Needle.

Chihuly Conservatory Greenhouse
Imagine a party in this room under the stars all lit up – magical!
Chihuly Conservatory and Space Needle
Chihuly Conservatory and Space Needle

Walking out to the gardens on the cloudy day, the glass colors amid the green landscapes provided an instant mood pick me up. Luckily, a bit of blue sky was starting to make it’s way toward the end of my visit.

Chihuly garden glass
A garden of Chihuly glass
Can you see the Space Needle in the glass at Chihuly
Can you see the Space Needle in the Chihuly glass?

Included in your admission ticket are digital photos taken by a staff photographer inside as well as outside.  You take your photo card to one of many kiosks to view and if you like the image, you can email to yourself – a nice keepsake from your visit.

Garden of Glass at Chihuly
The Seattle Sun in Chihuly Garden

One of the last stops (before the gift shop exit) was the theater which was showing various short films of the artist, his life in Washington State,  his work, process and installations.  Chihuly was injured to the point that he stopped creating the glass sculptures on his own and instead now leads his teams to create his visions – the conductor of the orchestra working all of the pieces together in harmony.

Sealife detail at Chihuly
Sealife detail at the Chihuly Glass in Seattle

The Chihuly Gift Shop

Even the gift shop was impressive with Chihuly art as well as local artists of Washington and Oregon. If you want to support local artists, this is a good place to find unique gifts or take photos (like I did) and visit their websites directly.

Two Peas in a Pod at Chihuly Gift Shop
How cute – Two Peas in a Pod child’s toy

The Chihuly limited art prints of $1,700 were out of my budget as well as the individual glass pieces which started at $4,000.

Chihuly Gift shop limited prints
Chihuly Gift shop limited prints
Chihuly glass for sale
Glass pieces starting at $4,000 in the Chihuly Gift Shop

Chihuly Garden & Glass – Final Thoughts

Needless to say, my visit to the Chihuly Garden & Glass was not quick, definitely more than an hour and I missed my lunchtime (the restaurant was full).  It was a great surprise to visit the garden and glass and I’m happy I did – I would recommend it to anyone who likes art as well as any photographer. Next visit, I want to go at night to see the gardens lit up under the Seattle Space Needle and a clear starry sky.

My tickets cost $19 + tax.  There is a free audio tour (I didn’t do that, thinking I was doing a quick drive by art tour, boy was I wrong) as well as complimentary photos of you/your family with the displays. The onsite restaurant can be booked in advance using OpenTable, if you want coffee or a snack, there is a garden kiosk.

Chihuly garden of glass
A gorgeous summer day in Seattle to be out in the Chihuly garden and glass


5 thoughts on “Chihuly Garden & Glass Review – A Colorful Seattle Surprise

  1. I love Seattle! I was recently there for only a few hours though. My friend and I marveled at the glass museum behind the gate and trees. We didn’t have much time in Seattle, but I loved reading your post! It looks like a beautiful museum, so colorful and educational. I am actually interested in taking a glass blowing class. There are so many beautiful glass pieces around, and it would be such a fun activity to do.

    Sincerely Courtney from Barefoot in Blue Jeans

    1. Courtney – Shame you didn’t have more time in the city but am sure you’ll go back. A glass blowing class does seem fun, I still marvel at the demonstrations in Venice years ago – it is really an art and would make for great fun with friends. – Good luck!

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