The Museum of Glass is in Tacoma, about a half-hour away from Seattle, and it's well worth the trip for art glass enthusiasts. The permanent collection includes some Chihuly pieces, work by 20th and 21st-century artists, and a charming collection of sculptural pieces interpreting children's drawings. The temporary exhibits often feature a Northwest theme, and a theater features a rotation of short films about glass art.
The real highlight of the museum, though, is the Hot Shop, where resident glassmakers and their assistants blow glass all day long for the entertainment of visitors. Often, their work is being filmed, and a narrator is on hand to explain what you're seeing. You can walk all around the Hot Shop via overhead walkways, and photography is allowed throughout the museum, so it's a great opportunity for photographers as well.
The museum isn't huge and takes only a couple of hours to go through, so it's an ideal destination for a rainy afternoon. But don't miss the striking outdoor art, like the Chihuly Bridge of Glass, outside the museum (free).
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The Wonder of Glass
The Seattle area seems to be chock-full of beautiful glass works, mostly by the contemporary face of glass blowing: Dale Chihuly. But the Museum of Glass in Tacoma is worth the drive because it offers the opportunity to witness an artist actually creating a blown glass piece. It also offers a small but carefully curated collection of unique glass works and docent-led tours that explain, say, how glass aesthetics differ between Australian artists and those in the US. Outside the Museum, visitors will find works by Chihuly himself at the Chihuly Bridge of Glass.
For an immersive lesson in the history and artistry of glass blowing, visit the Museum of Glass. In the Hot Shop observe local emerging artists actually creating works while you'll learn about the science behind the process. Their local residency and visiting artist programs enable craftsmen to focus on their work while visitors can keep coming back and see someone new preform. Their store sell pieces ranging in price and style (from ornate vases to little necklaces) so it's worth stopping to support the shop.
The Museum of Glass in Tacoma is definitely worth a visit. The galleries are rather small, but feature intriguing works by Dale Chihuly and other contemporary glass artists. There are interactive spaces for children and workshops for adults. The highlight is the Hot Shop, where visitors can observe a glass blowing studio in action. There is often live commentary and the audience is free to ask questions while getting a view from every angle. Don't miss the art outside the museum either, including Chiluly's Bridge of Glass and Martin Blank's Fluent Steps.