Let me start off by saying I have had some exposure to glass blowing techniques in the past.
years ago I walked along the canals of Venice, Italy enjoying the many glass artists applying their
trade. And as an amateur observe, I thought I knew more about the process than I actually did. I
found the error of my ways when we visited the Museum of Glass. Loved the visit - wish we had had
more time to browse. Look forward to returning as soon as we are in the area again.
The Museum of Glass is a 75,000-square-foot art museum in Tacoma, Washington dedicated to the medium of glass. Since its founding in 2002, the Museum of Glass has been committed to creating a space for the celebration of the studio glass movement through nurturing artists, implementing education, and encouraging creativity.
The idea for the Museum of Glass began in 1992 when Dr. Philip M. Phibbs, recently retired president of the University of Puget Sound, had a conversation with Tacoma native and renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly. Dr. Phibbs reasoned that the Pacific Northwest's contributions to the studio glass movement warranted a glass museum, and just a few weeks later he outlined his idea and rationale for the Museum of Glass to the Executive Council for a Greater Tacoma. The timing of his proposal corresponded with the idea to redevelop the Thea Foss Waterway, and the Chairman of the Council, George Russel, concluded that the Museum of Glass would be the perfect anchor for the renewed waterway.
The site for the museum, directly adjacent to the Thea Foss Waterway, was secured in 1995, and two years later acclaimed Canadian architect Arthur Erickson revealed his design for the museum. Construction of the museum began in June 2000, and the steel frame of the iconic hot shop cone was completed in 2001. Shortly thereafter construction began on the Chihuly Bridge of Glass to link the museum to downtown Tacoma. The museum opened on July 6, 2002 to thousands of visitors and worldwide accolades.
The museum features 13,000 square feet in gallery space and a 7,000-square-foot hot shop. This hot shop, shaped as an angled cone is the museum's most striking architectural feature. The cone, inspired by the wood "beehive burners" of the sawmills that once dotted the waterway, is composed of 2,800 diamond-shaped stainless steel panels and is 100 feet in diameter at its base. Also featured in the Museum of Glass' architecture is a sweeping concrete stairway that spirals around the exterior of the building, and three rimless reflecting pools featured on the museum's terraces connecting the Museum with the Chihuly Bridge of Glass.
The Museums' Hot Shop Amphitheater provides seating for 145 guests to watch live glass blowing demonstrations. If you have never seen a live demonstration of glass blowing, it will blow your mind (pardon the pund). The hot shop contains both a hot glass studio for blowing and casting glass and a cold working studio. Hot Shop activity is streamed live through the Museum of Glass' website, and is also archived online. The hot shop also provides residencies for both visiting and featured artists.
The Museum of Glass hosts internationally acclaimed and emerging artists through its Visiting Artist Residency Program. The residencies range in length from one day to several weeks, and a piece is selected from each residency for inclusion in the Museum's collection. Most residencies are streamed online through the museum's website and conclude in a Conversation with the Artist lecture.
Since its opening, the Museum of Glass has partnered with Pilchuck Glass School to produce the Visiting Artist Summer Series in which artists who attend or work at Piilchuck are invited to a residency at the Museum of Glass. The first ever visiting artist to the Museum of Glass was Dale Chihuly at the museum's opening in 2002.
Summer Memorial Day to Labor Day (Open 7 days/week)
Mon - Sat 10 am to 5 pm
Sun 12 pm to 5 pm
Third Thur each month Hours: 10 am to 8 pm & free admission: 5 to 8 pm
Open Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day
Fall-Winter-Spring (Open 5 days/week)
Wed - Sat 10 am to 5 pm
Sun 12 pm to 5 pm
Third Thur each month Hours: 10 am to 8 pm
Closed Mon/Tue Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day
Museum of Glass
1801 Dock Street