Submitted by Tacoma Art Museum.

Visitors can experience popular glass art with a dramatic new perspective in Chihuly at the Tacoma Art Museum. The updated facility recently opened with new lighting, contemporary design and an immersive seating area.

“It’s not just a row of things in a box,” said David Setford, TAM’s chief executive. “Chihuly’s work takes you into a fantastical world of colors and shapes…we have liberated the works.”

Pierce College

The Chihuly collection was seen long-term at TAM and as it grew, display cases and pedestals were added to accommodate new works. However, the gallery had become crowded and individual works were difficult to appreciate. Museum staff recognized the need to present the collection in a new and engaging way. Selected contributions and ideas on how best to reintroduce the collection to visitors were incorporated into the final designs.

The museum’s senior exhibition designer and preparator has created a new vision for the gallery that incorporates Dale Chihuly’s love for natural textures and materials and showcases the rich colors and evocative forms for which he is acclaimed. . It is also an opportunity to rethink the relationships between the works.

The textures of the pedestals and supports were created using shou sugi ban, a Japanese architectural technique for preserving wood by charring the surface with fire. The gallery walls have been painted black and the works rest on black plexiglass to reflect light and color. Individual series (eg Cylinders, Seaforms, Macchia) are grouped together to show the variations Chihuly made and to demonstrate the evolution of his work from simpler basket shapes to dramatic sculptures. A new seating area allows visitors to be surrounded by the works and sit in contemplation, chat with friends or browse information about Chihuly’s vast and innovative career.

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Chihuly at the Tacoma Art Museum is on permanent display at the TAM. Timetables and more information on www.tacomaartmuseum.org.

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