Whether in chic museum galleries, glitzy casino hotels, or rugged desert gardens, the eye-catching works of world-famous glass artist Dale Chihuly never fail to dazzle. The glowing orbs, shimmering colors, and cascading blossoms manage to stand out as distinctively Chihuly, regardless of their setting.
I first experienced Chihuly’s work in an exhibition at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2008–2009. I was struck by the way the soaring installations perfectly complemented the garden’s spiky cacti. I had a similar sensation a few years later when I wandered through Seattle’s Chihuly Garden and Glass, where the spectacularly domed Glasshouse appeared to be the ideal showcase for the artist’s work.
While the Garden and Glass at the Seattle Center is perhaps the best-known of the Chihuly collections in the U.S., there are plenty of other places to take in the artist’s work as well. Here are eight of the best places in the U.S. to see Chihuly artwork outside of Seattle.
1. Oklahoma City Museum Of Art
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Known as one of the largest Chihuly collections in the world, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art first exhibited glass and drawings by Chihuly in 2002. Then in 2004, the museum purchased the exhibition, which featured pieces from Chihuly’s most popular series.
The centerpiece of the permanent collection was the Eleanor Blake Kirkpatrick Memorial Tower in the museum’s atrium. Standing 55 feet tall, the tower made up of swirling glass orbs continues to welcome visitors to the museum today.
Since its start in 2004, the OKCMOA’s permanent collection has grown to include gifts to the museum by Chihuly, and it now features more than 3 decades of Chihuly’s work, including iconic pieces such as Ikebana Boat, and the Oklahoma Persian Ceiling.
Pro Tip: The Chihuly Then and Now: The Collection at Twenty exhibition is currently underway at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, featuring new works on loan, as well as visitor favorites from OKCMOA’s permanent collection. The exhibition runs through June 2024.
2. Franklin Conservatory Park & Botanical Gardens
The Franklin Park Conservancy and Botanical Gardens in Columbus, Ohio, first hosted a Chihuly exhibition in 2003, becoming the second botanical garden to host the artist’s work. The nonprofit group, Friends of the Conservatory, later worked together to purchase most of the pieces in the exhibition.
Today, the Franklin Conservatory Park & Botanical Gardens is known as the largest private Chihuly collection in a botanical garden. The garden’s website describes the works by Chihuly as accenting the beautiful scenes of the interior conservatory.
The conservatory’s display currently features 18 installations of Chihuly artwork, placed throughout the garden — all perfectly highlighting the connection between art and nature.
The Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens extensive collection of Chihuly pieces includes the soaring Sunset Chandelier, the vibrant Persian Ceiling and Persian Window, and the Neodymium Reeds & Green Grasses.
Pro Tip: The Franklin Conservatory & Botanical Gardens offers special after-dark events known as Chihuly Nights that allow visitors to view the illuminated Chihuly collection against the setting of the interior conservatory.
3. Tacoma Art Museum
Dale Chihuly grew up in Tacoma, located about 35 miles south of Seattle, and his career is showcased at the Tacoma Art Museum. Over the years, Chihuly has donated a retrospective collection of his work to the museum, and the works are on permanent display.
The collection includes a variety of pieces from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, which feature colorful glass cylinders, baskets, and macchia. The collection also includes the Ma Chihuly’s Floats, a seasonal exhibit in the museum’s central courtyard.
Pro Tip: Chihuly’s pieces are on display in a number of locations in his hometown. For other spots to take in the art, see 5 Amazing Places To See Dale Chihuly’s Artwork In His Hometown.
4. Morean Arts Center
St. Petersburg, Florida
The Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg, Florida, has the distinction of being the first Chihuly exhibition to be housed in a building designed specifically for the collection. The building’s architecture was crafted to work together with the art “to create an experience unlike any other exhibition of Chihuly’s art,” says the center’s website, adding that the collection’s entrance is marked by a 20-foot sculpture that was created especially for the space.
The Morean’s Chihuly Collection features a number of large-scale installations, such as the Ruby Red Icicle Chandelier and the Florida Rose Crystal Tower. The spaces were designed to complement each installation — a feature that produces unique visual experiences, according to the center’s website.
Pro Tip: Along with the Chihuly Collection, St. Petersburg also has a number of other not-to-be-missed art centers, museums, and gardens. For ideas on things to do in the Florida city, see 9 Fantastic Experiences In St. Petersburg, Florida Plus Where To Eat And Stay.
5. Virginia Museum Of Contemporary Art
Virginia Beach, Virginia
In a space that was built specifically to showcase the piece, Chihuly’s Mille Colori hangs as a permanent fixture in the sunlit Rodriguez Pavilion at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
The name translates to “1,000 Colors,” and the museum’s website says, “Mille Colori certainly lives up to its name.” It is a 14-foot-tall glass sculpture that is made up of 520 separate, multi-colored blown-glass pieces.
Mille Colori can be seen year-round at the museum.
6. Desert Botanical Garden
The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona, has hosted a number of Chihuly exhibits over the years, most recently in 2022. While the large exhibits have been temporary, there is a Chihuly piece that remains at the garden permanently. The Desert Towers is a trio of tall, green, tree-like sculptures that stand at the garden’s entrance.
According to the garden’s website, the Desert Towers piece was first installed for the garden’s Chihuly exhibition in 2009. The installation was later purchased by the garden as a legacy to the exhibition. Today, it sits in a patch of agave plants, perfectly complementing the desert terrain.
7. Bellagio Hotel And Casino
Las Vegas, Nevada
Owing to its high-profile location, Chihuly’s gorgeous Fiori di Como which hangs from the ceiling of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino on the Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, is surely among the artist’s most well-known pieces. The sculpture consists of 2,000 hand-blown blossoms with hues of red, blue, yellow, and green and is a showstopper in the casino’s lobby.
According to an article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the piece is a favorite among published lists of things to do in Las Vegas, and thousands of people visit the casino’s lobby every day to see the Chihuly sculpture. When I saw the creation a few years back, I was struck by how the enormous installation with its vibrant glass blossoms so perfectly sets off the opulent setting of the Bellagio lobby.
Pro Tip: Over the years, Chihuly’s glass sculptures have been shown in more than 240 museums all over the world. Along with the permanent collections, the artist’s pieces often appear at botanical gardens and museums for temporary exhibits. In 2023, for instance, the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis will feature Chihuly in the Garden from May through mid-October.
Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, Chihuly Sanctuary
Note that as of March 2023, the Chihuly Sanctuary was still closed to the public because of COVID-19 masking restrictions, and a reopening date has yet to be announced. For updates, visit the Chihuly Sanctuary website.
Created to be a serene environment that would offer respite and reflection for patients, caregivers, and researchers at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, the Chihuly Sanctuary features 10 site-specific art installations, including a Fiori Garden.
The Chihuly Sanctuary serves as a “cornerstone of the Cancer Center’s Healing Arts Program,” says the sanctuary’s website, noting that the sanctuary is located in the 10-story Cancer Center building designed in the form of a macchia, one of Chihuly’s signature series.
The colors of the sanctuary can be seen from many vantage points on the campus of the Cancer Center, “signifying to everyone that the space is something truly unique and special — a place where art and healing have come together to help make a difference in the lives of patients, researchers, and caregivers,” says the sanctuary’s website.
Pro Tip: Another future option for seeing Chihuly artwork in Omaha is at the community’s Joslyn Art Museum. Although the museum will be closed throughout 2023 for an expansion, its website reports that the Joslyn will reopen in 2024.
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