Blue Star Museums Blog (Archive)

What's On View at the Museum of Glass

Tacoma, Washington

Today in Tacoma, Blue Star Museums is hosting an event for military families at the Museum of Glass. In honor of the occasion, we're taking you inside one of the country's most innovative centers for glass arts!

The Museum of Glass's Hot Shop. Photo by Ken Emly

Opened in July, 2002, the Museum of Glass immediately became an icon for the Tacoma. Noted for its distinctive architecture, the massive, 90-foot-tall stainless steel cone structure houses the world’s largest Hot Shop Amphitheater. Feel the heat of 2,000 degree furnaces and watch the resident glassblowing team---or visiting artists from around the world---in action. There are no staged demos, just the authentic artistic process. See a chalk sketch transformed into a beautiful sculpture or, as the artists push the limits, a pile of broken glass on the floor. Expert commentary and a state-of-the-art audiovisual system provide insight into the glassblowing process as well as the scientific, cultural, and historical aspects of glass.

The museum’s 11,000-square-foot gallery space showcases extraordinary 20th and 21st century glass art, with changing exhibitions and an extensive permanent collection. Below are a few of the exhibits on view this summer.

Glimmering Gone: Ingalena Klenell and Beth Lipman. Landscape (detail), 2010. Kiln-formed glass, 156 x 443 x 252 inches. Photo by Russell Johnson and Jeff Curtis

Glimmering Gone: Ingalena Klenell and Beth Lipman
Through March 2012

Glimmering Gone is an exhibition conceived and created by American artist Beth Lipman and Swedish artist Ingalena Klenell. It comprises three large-scale installations of colorless and white glass: Landscape, Mementos, and Artifacts. Experiential and interrelated, the artwork was produced by the artists individually in their home studios and collaboratively during a two-week Hot Shop residency at the Museum of Glass in January, 2010. The installations present a metaphor for material culture, landscape, and life.

Kids Design Glass Banana Bam!, 2007. Designed by Macay Fischer (age 8). Made by Museum of Glass Hot Shop Team. Blown and hot-sculpted glass with applied bits. 7 x 15 ½ x 6 inches. Collection of Museum of Glass. Photo by Russell Johnson

Kids Design Glass
Through October 31, 2011

Kids Design Glass celebrates the imagination of children with 52 glass sculptures designed by kids and crafted by professional artists in the Museum of Glass Hot Shop. The Kids Design Glass education program, from which these creations originated, illustrates the symbiotic relationship between designer and glassblower. A child draws a design---generally a fantastical creature---names it, and writes a brief explanation or story. The museum’s Hot Shop team selects one design each month and transforms the two-dimensional drawing into a three-dimensional sculpture. As the designer, the child directs the artists as they make two sculptures---one for the child to take home and one for the museum’s permanent collection. The children’s drawings and artist statements are displayed alongside each piece.

Punctuation Marks, 2011. Mildred Price, artist. Blown glass, 30 x 10 x 7 and 12 x 7 x 5 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco, CA. Photo by Duncan Price

Parenthetically Speaking: It’s Only a Figure of Speech
Through April 29, 2012

Parenthetically Speaking: It’s Only a Figure of Speech is a new collection of work by San Francisco-based artist Mildred Howard comprising more than 40 glass punctuation marks, proofreading symbols and musical notes.  The work is inspired by At the End, a poem by Howard’s friend and Peabody Award winner Quincy Troupe.  Both the poem and the exhibition reference punctuation as a metaphor for the passage of time.

Fluent Steps, 2009. Martin Blank, artist. Hot-sculpted glass, stainless steel. Collection of Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington. Photo by Chuck Lysen

Outdoors, the unique architecture of the Glass Plazas and the three reflecting pools provide additional exhibition space. An evocative public setting for glass sculpture, the outdoor space showcases the work's interplay with the Northwest light, weather, and the evolving life of Tacoma. On permanent display is Martin Blank’s Fluent Steps, which captures the essence of water. Fluent Steps spans the entire length of the 210-foot-long Main Plaza reflecting pool, and rises from water level to 15 feet in height. It consists of 754 individually hand-sculpted pieces of glass, most created in the museum’s Hot Shop during Blank’s 45-day visiting artist residency in 2008. These forms are arranged into several islands that capture the fluidity, light, motion, and transparency of water in clear glass.

Chihuly Bridge of Glass, 2002. Tacoma, Washington. Dale Chihuly, artist. Andersson-Wise Architects. Photo by Mahesh Thapa

Finally, stroll across the Chihuly Bridge of Glass. Created as a joint venture by the City of Tacoma, Dale Chihuly, and the Museum of Glass, this spectacular beacon serves as a pedestrian walkway from the Museum of Glass to downtown Tacoma. Its 500-foot span features three installations of colorful glass objects that are signature Chihuly. The Seaform Pavilion ceiling invokes images of an undersea garden with more than 2,300 objects from Chihuly’s Seaform and Persian series. The two translucent, ice-blue Crystal Towers rise 40 feet above the bridge’s midpoint, and serve as welcoming beacons of light into the city. Finally, the Venetian Wall showcases 109 delicate sculptures from three Chihuly series: Venetians, Ikebana, and Putti. The Venetian Wall is a collection of some of the largest blown-glass works executed in the history of the medium.

Museum of Glass
1801 Dock Street
Tacoma, Washington 98402

Please visit the Blue Star Museums website for more information about the program and to find participating museums.

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