This post was most recently updated on July 23rd, 2020
Tacoma’s Museum of Glass might not be at the top of your must-see list. But it should be. Until I began seeing photos online of Chihuly’s glass sculptures, I hadn’t really thought much about glass as an art medium at all. When an opportunity arose to visit family in Seattle, I decided I would look into visiting the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit at the Seattle Center. Every time I googled Chihuly’s name, I would also find references to a bridge of glass and other Chihuly exhibits at the Tacoma Museum of Glass. It didn’t take me long to realize that I had to see BOTH. While I’d love it if you checked out my visit to Chihuly Garden and Glass, this post is dedicated to all that I loved about the Museum of Glass (MOG) in Tacoma.
(click on any photo to enlarge)
Tucked into an enclave amidst Tacoma’s courthouse & museums, railyard, trendy apartments, and marina you will find the Museum of Glass. It’s a beautiful setting for a museum of this type. With an iconic 90-ft cone, an expansive patio adorned with glass sculptures, and the bridge of glass, it also adds significantly to the area’s attractions.
The Museum of Glass offers so much that I’ve decided to organize this review into five different areas.
Museum of Glass showcases multiple artists
Unlike Chihuly Garden and Glass, MOG’s exhibits showcase several glass artists and many different methods of working with glass. For that reason, there’s a great variety. I really enjoyed seeing all the different things you could do with glass. It was rather eye-opening for me! From small items you might set on a coffee table…to items as large as a room, I was fascinated with the way glass had been manipulated to focus on color, shape, or movement.
I especially enjoyed the #BeTheCurator exhibit. After allowing museum visitors to curate and comment on their favorite pieces, the most “liked” pieces are now on display. I had many favorites in this exhibit, but this one was truly mesmerizing:
Here are some other pieces I really enjoyed:
The Kids’ Design Glass program rocks!
This was a really fun exhibit! Children ages 12 and under are invited to create a design; one design is chosen each month for the glassblowing team to produce. They love the challenge of creating the children’s whimsical 2-D artwork in the 3-D medium of glass. Two pieces are created — one for the child and one for the museum to display. The child and his/her family are invited to watch while the design is being created. Many of these pieces are displayed in the museum, and one of them was also produced as a stuffed animal and is sold in the museum store.
What a cool Hot Shop!
Every day, museum visitors can visit the Hot Shop while works of art are being created. Cushy amphitheater seats put you front and center. You can even stand on a balcony overlooking the team at work. Not only can you watch, but you can also ask questions. In fact, you can even do this from the comfort of your own home with the Hot Shop Live! webcam. If you have questions, you can type them into the “chat” box, and the Hot Shop Emcee will answer your questions over the live feed. My husband and I really enjoyed watching the glass designers do their work as well as hear the explanations of what and why they did what they did!
The Museum of Glass is educational
Everywhere in the Museum of Glass, there are signs and displays explaining the details of working with glass. There’s a studio and even classes you can take where you can have hands-on experience. A theatre shows documentaries of the design team in action. Even the museum store has a large variety of pieces for sale, along with books that highlight the many facets of glass design.
Highlights from the Museum Store:
And what about the Bridge of Glass?
The Bridge of Glass spans Dock Street, and connects the rooftop of the Museum of Glass to the core of Tacoma’s downtown museum district. On one side is a series of “cubbies” filled with with various pieces of Chihuly’s blown glass art. At the end of the bridge are two large pillars of beautiful rough-cut blue glass, called the Crystal Towers. If you stand in such a way that the sun can shine through the crystals, it is breathtaking!
I’ve really only described a fraction of all that is happening at the Museum of Glass. I invite you to learn more about their “Healing in Flames” program that works with soldiers… or their docent-led tours and school group tours. There’s even a Museum Cafe.
If I’ve piqued your interest, you can find the visiting information you’ll need here. There is city parking nearby for only $2.00 fo 0-3 hours.
While we only spent about two hours here, I could have stayed longer. And I’d love to return to see new exhibits. I have to thank the Museum of Glass for hosting my visit! It was a wonderful and very enriching part of my trip to the Northwest.
What would YOU most like to see at the Tacoma Museum of Glass?
(The best part about this article is that you can download it free and take it with you. Just go to this link at GPSmyCity; if you pay a small fee to upgrade, it will become a GPS-embedded guide. Then you can view it without internet or data charges. I’ll get a few cents, and you’ll enjoy a great trip to Tacoma!)
For more ideas of what to see and do in the Pacific Northwest, read Five Seattle Favorites.