Chihuly Garden and Glass

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Pacific Sun, by Dale Chihuly (Photographed by Nick Licata)

As I strolled through Chihuly Garden and Glass during one of its opening celebrations recently, I was struck by the scale of Dale’s work – gigantic chandeliers, tall towers, expansive tableaus of floral and sea forms and a 100-foot long suspended sculpture composed of 1,300 individual pieces of glass, all occupying an acre and a half of land on Seattle Center grounds. It is quite impressive.

Chihuly Garden and Glass is a $20 million permanent exhibition financed by the Space Needle Corporation under the auspices of Center Art, LLC, which is leasing the property from the City. Center Art expects to receive entry fees of between $15 and $19 from about 400,000 visitors each year. Free days will be offered to local schools and discounted tickets distributed through the Seattle Center Foundation, campus resident organizations and other non-profits to pass on to their patrons.

Photo credit: Nick Licata

Center Art will pay the City an annual rent of $350,000 during their initial 5-year lease, increasing to $500,000 annually starting with any subsequent lease. Also upon renewing their lease, they’ll begin paying the City 8% of net proceeds from any Chihuly fine art sold on site.

In 2010, I wrote about what was then referred to as the Chihuly Museum in UP #295. In early 2011, Center Art’s revised proposal called for a Northwest Art Gallery of about 2,700 square feet located across from the Space Needle on Thomas St. and featuring work by local artists. The gallery was to be free to the general public.

Photo credit: Nick Licata

When Center Art was unable to include the Northwest Art Gallery in their final proposal, my office provided authority within their lease agreement for Seattle Center to operate one.  Although Seattle Center currently has no such plans, I will continue to encourage its director, Robert Nellams, to open such a gallery for local artists to display and sell their work on campus.

In the mean time, Seattle Center will be taking a small step in that direction by hosting a temporary exhibition in July featuring work associated with the Pilchuck Glass School. Keep an eye on Seattle Center’s website for details to become available.

For more information on Chihuly Garden and Glass, visit their website.

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