Visiting a Chihuly Exhibit – 5 Things to Know Before You Go

World-renowned glass sculptor, Dale Chihuly, is known for incorporating his work into varied environments, from musuems and gardens around the world to other unique indoor and outdoor settings. Here are five things to know before you go to one of his exhibits.

I happened to be in the right place at the right time to experience the Chihuly in the Garden exhibit at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix in early 2014, and it was amazing! So when I heard that his In the Forest exhibit was at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art through November 13th, just a three-hour drive from Kansas City, I knew I had to go see it.

Please note:  To ensure that my post doesn’t spoil your experience at the exhibit, I’ve chosen to exclude photos of the pieces.

Whether you see his exhibit at Crystal Bridges or in another location, here are five things to know before you go see a Chihuly exhibit:


1. It’s Likely Not Free

Even if Chihuly’s work is exhibited at a venue that typically has no admission fee, like the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, there is nearly always an admission fee to view his work.

Pro Tip:  Don’t think you’ll make it to Crystal Bridges in Bentonville before the Chihuly exhibit ends on November 13th? Make plans to catch  his next exhibit at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina opening in May 2018.

Chihuly Exhibit at Crystal Bridges


2. Check the Weather

Because Dale Chihuly’s work is inspired by the natural world and his exhibitions are designed to complement the selected venue, his work is often displayed outside.  Be mindful of the weather when planning your visit.

Dale Chihuly Quote


3. Purchase Tickets in Advance

There may be a long wait to purchase your tickets at the venue which cuts into your viewing time. Or tickets may be sold out for the first few days or weeks of a new exhibit, on weekends, or for special viewing opportunities like the nighttime viewings.  It’s wise to consider purchasing your tickets in advance.

Dale Chihuly's Sapphire Star from the Desert Botanical Garden Exhibit in Phoenix
Greeting guests in the Ottosen Entry Garden at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, the Sapphire Star consisted of more than 720 blue to clear spires. While the Sapphire Star glistened during the day, it was amazing at night!


4. See the Exhibit in Different Light

Chihuly’s work looks different as the day progresses, from the from soft light of the early morning to the bright sun at midday to being lit at night.  If at all possible, try to experience his work in both daylight and at night.

I’m bummed I wasn’t able to get to Bentonville early enough on Friday night to catch his exhibit at night.  Based upon what I saw, I bet it’s fantastic!

Dale Chihuly Quote


5. There Might be a Glass Blowing Demonstration

If you’re lucky, the Chihuly exhibit you visit might include a glass blowing demonstration. Sponsored by Coca-Cola, the Corning Museum of Glass’ Hot Glass Roadshow provides live glassmaking demos through October 18th at Crystal Bridges.

I had no idea how much strength, and teamwork, it took to create a piece of glass until watching the demonstration!

Quote by Dale Chihuly

Pro Tip:  If you miss the Hot Glass Roadshow in Bentonville, you can catch them next in Chicago.

While I’m most certainly oversimplifying the process, the glass piece being produced is alternately heated up…

…and turned to produce the size, style, and textured piece desired. There is actually a surprisingly small amount of glass “blowing” that takes place, with much more emphasis on turning.

Once the piece is finished, it is carefully “snapped” from the turning rod and cooled down slowly in a special cooling oven.

Pro Tip:  Several pieces are available for raffle daily at the Corning Museum of Glass demonstration at Crystal Bridges.

What about you?  Have you had a chance to visit a Chihuly exhibit somewhere in the world?  Share your experience in the comments section below!

Don’t just take my word for it!  Here is what other bloggers have said about their experience at a Chihuly exhibit:

Pro Tip:  Watch this video to see one of Dale Chihuly’s pieces installed at Maker’s Mark in Kentucky!


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