With its location in the middle of the bustling Seattle Center, the Chihuly Garden and Glass is far from a hidden gem. It is one of Seattle’s most popular attractions, often listed right up there with its famous neighbor — the iconic Space Needle, which gets 1.3 million visitors a year.
With that popularity in mind, it’s safe to say that many return visitors to Seattle have already visited the Chihuly exhibit. Over the years, I have browsed Chihuly’s gallery of glass art several times and have always marveled at famous features like the remarkable glasshouse and glasshouse sculpture.
So, when I was planning my recent November trip to Seattle, I wondered whether Garden and Glass was worth another visit. With a bit of research, I discovered that the Garden and Glass is featuring a new exhibit in 2022 and winter 2023, called Winter Brilliance.
Considering that my visit coincided with the start of the holiday season, I decided the addition of the shiny new exhibit warranted another visit to the Chihuly Garden and Glass. It turned out to be a good call because the Garden and Glass was a marvel to me once again. I was a guest of Visit Seattle and Seattle CityPASS for my tour, but my opinions are my own.
Pro Tip: Winter Brilliance will be displayed at Chihuly Garden and Glass through February 28, 2023.
Here are six reasons Seattle’s Chihuly Garden and Glass is worth a return (or a first) visit.
1. A New Festive Touch
Although the new Winter Brilliance Exhibition is more about the winter season than the holidays, there’s no doubt that it adds a festive element to the Garden and Glass.
Located near the entrance to the Chihuly Garden and Glass, the Winter Brilliance exhibit makes quite a statement and has an undeniable allure. I noticed that people were lingering in front of the glowing exhibit for 15 or 20 minutes, taking in the luster.
2. Ever-Changing Colors
One of the reasons why Winter Brilliance is worth an extended viewing is that the ice-like glass formations constantly change colors and soft music plays along with it. While I watched, the installation changed from a deep vivid blue to an icy white to a lovely golden hue.
The immersive Winter Brilliance exhibit uses innovative video projection technology, meant to continually transform and intensify the viewer’s experience.
3. Fire And Ice Inspiration
Winter Brilliance is said to have been inspired in part by ice and that inspiration is immediately apparent in the sparkling chandeliers and reeds that take on the appearance of icicles. As the colors change, the exhibit also at times resembles flames and fire, the other element that inspired the piece.
Winter Brilliance dates back to 2015 when it was created for the famous annual holiday window display at the Madison Avenue store of Barneys New York. A sign in the gallery notes that Winter Brilliance “is a joyful expression of both its namesake season and Chihuly’s desire to present his work in unexpected and dramatic ways.”
The sign adds that Winter Brilliance comprises Chihuly’s chandeliers, towers, reeds, and clusters of icicles. Chihuly developed a form in 1996 for his first permanent outdoor installation, the Icicle Creek Chandelier in Leavenworth, Washington.
4. Longtime Favorites, Refreshed
Though it was Winter Brilliance that initially enticed me back to the Garden and Glass, I found that some of my old favorites had renewed appeal as I browsed the gallery.
Along with the always-stunning glasshouse, I loved taking another look at the Northwest Room where Chihuly’s collection of baskets and blankets from Native people in the area is on display along with his creations of baskets made of glass.
5. Glassblowing Exhibits
Known as the Community Hot Shop, the live demonstrations that take place in the outside garden offer a fascinating glimpse into what it takes to create the Garden and Glass’ signature pieces.
The glassblowing process is demonstrated by a team of local artists who “gather molten glass from a 2,175-degree furnace and shape their work into a beautiful object,” says the Garden and Glass website.
Pro Tip: The demonstrations take place at regular intervals throughout the day.
6. A New Bar With Craft Cocktails
The Garden and Glass Collections Café already offers a range of Northwest wines, beers, and stone-fired pizzas. However, during the winter of 2023, the café also promises the opening of the bar at Chihuly Garden and Glass, a new concept that will offer craft cocktails and appetizers in the garden’s one-of-a-kind atmosphere. More details are expected soon.
Pro Tip: Chihuly Garden and Glass and the Space Needle are among the attractions offered through the Seattle CityPASS.
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