Dale Chihuly may be the Pacific Northwest’s most famous glass artist. His fanciful glass creations have been exhibited at more than 200 museums, gardens and other venues around the world. Closer to home, the Seattle area celebrates the Tacoma-born artist’s work at Chihuly Garden and Glass, where radiant red and gleaming gold “plants” sparkle in the outdoor gardens, and several indoor galleries showcase Chihuly’s dramatic glass inventions.
But beyond his own work, Chihuly’s legacy extends to a growing network of younger glass artists who work across the Seattle region. With several hundred artists creating these works in local studios, a visit to the city can include a variety of distinctive glass art experiences.
Here’s how to go behind the scenes in the Seattle glass art scene.
Create a Customized Experience at Chihuly Garden and Glass
Base yourself for your glass adventure at the Five-Star Four Seasons Hotel Seattle, overlooking Eliot Bay in the heart of the city’s downtown. Complement your stay at this luxe lodging with a unique experience at Chihuly Garden and Glass, which houses the world’s only permanent display of Dale Chihuly’s work.
You’ll enjoy a private tour of the exhibition spaces, while a photographer snaps images of you beside the art, either in the galleries or out in the gardens. Plus, you’ll have a reserved seat for a glassblowing demonstration at the facility’s hot shop. As mementos of this special day, you’ll return home with a file of photos, as well as a one-of-a-kind glass piece.
Tour Chihuly’s Private Studio
To learn more about Chihuly’s art and to see his team of glassblowers at work, arrange a private tour at The Boathouse, his living and working studio space. The building originally operated as a working boathouse, where George Pocock, who founded the company Pocock Racing Shells, designed his crew boats.
Since 1989, Chihuly and his team have worked in this waterfront space, which contains a large hot shop, as well as several rooms displaying Chihuly’s work and various objects that the artist has collected. One room houses more than 800 blankets of Native American design, while another shows off two classic cars alongside several Chihuly pieces. Make sure to check out the property’s glass bathtub.
The Boathouse requires an appointment, but it occasionally hosts open studio events, including during the Refract Festival, an annual autumn celebration of Seattle glass art.
Dine amid Glass Art
In an expansive space near Pike Place Market, with windows facing Puget Sound, Aerlume highlights Pacific Northwest ingredients in dishes like Dungeness crab lettuce wraps, wild black cod with hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, and grilled king salmon paired with caramelized root vegetables and roasted squash. Be sure to look around as you dine, too. The restaurant displays custom glass art pieces, created by Seattle-based Glass Eye Studio, Washington State’s largest and longest-operating hot shop.
Check Out Local Glass Art Galleries
Throughout the Belltown, downtown and Pioneer Square neighborhoods, Seattle’s art galleries showcase the exciting happenings of the local glass art scene. Downtown’s Traver Gallery represents numerous glass artists, including the region’s premier Indigenous creator, Preston Singletary, who incorporates his Tlingit heritage into his glass totems, baskets and other meticulously crafted pieces.
Italian-born artist Lino Tagliapietra, who divides his time between Seattle and Murano, Italy, operates a large Belltown showroom, open by appointment, where you can view his graceful sculptures, vases and bowls, among other works. In the Pioneer Square area, Stonington Gallery regularly exhibits works by Native artists working in glass and other media.
For more art, head an hour south of Seattle to Tacoma’s Museum of Glass, which shows glass pieces by local, national and international artists in changing exhibits throughout the year. The museum also features working artists in its hot shop theater, where you can watch as they craft their glass creations. The Chihuly Bridge of Glass, a pedestrian walkway lined with vibrantly hued works by the hometown artist, welcomes you to the museum building.
Take a Glassblowing Workshop
If viewing all these sparkling pieces inspires you to try glassblowing yourself, schedule a private or small group introduction to the art form at the Seattle Glassblowing Studio. Part gallery and part working hot shop, the studio offers private classes ranging from one to three hours, where you’ll learn the basics of glasswork and create one or more pieces. Or book a two-hour small group workshop, for kids or adults, to learn glass art together. You’ll leave with one more shimmering souvenir of your Seattle sojourn.