Museum of Glass celebrates five years of hotness

By weeklyvolcano on July 6, 2007

The Museum of Glass â€" you know, the one with the cone thingy â€" will celebrate its fifth year of operation this weekend with a slew of demonstrations, activities and performances throughout. Visitors can join in all celebratory activities for a mere $5. Tacoma Art Museum and Washington State History Museum â€" in a act of solidarity â€" also will offer $5 admission, July 6-8.

The Museum of Glass opened its doors in 2002, welcoming more than 10,000 visitors during its first weekend and nearly 300,000 visitors during its first year, including guests from all 50 states and more than 60 countries. The one-millionth visitor is anticipated to walk through the doors this summer.

“We’ve had a fantastic first five years with numerous memorable exhibitions, artist visits and events that have earned the Museum a reputation for being a place of high energy and creative inspiration,” says Museum director and CEO Timothy Close. “We expect this trend to continue as the institution matures. As we enter our sixth year of operation, we do so with a clarified mission that focuses exclusively on glass, a lineup of exceptional glass exhibitions, a full schedule of innovative visiting artists, and continued outstanding educational programming that will augment the artwork in the galleries.”

With five years behind them, Museum officials have decided to trim the fat a bit, and will henceforth accept only exhibitions and installations featuring glass-based art, says spokeswoman Julie Pisto.

"We've experienced a lot of growth and change during the past five years, which is what you would expect in such a young institution," says Pisto. "Just getting the doors open and welcoming visitors was such a hurdle. Now we know much more what to expect, and we are much more efficient at running the organization.

The board made a decision about nine months ago to focus exclusively on the medium of glass. From this point on, it's going to be all glass, all the time."

Highlights for the Museum's anniversary celebration will include a new, multi-talent exhibit officially dubbed "Mining Glass." The exhibit will feature nine, large-scale installations by eight internationally distinguished and influential contemporary artists, including Maya Lin, Kiki Smith and Fred Wilson, who sculpts black glass into metaphors highlighting racial stereotypes and other global issues. Wilson will be in the Hot Shop Aug. 8-12. The Museum’s new mobile hot shop will be fired up for the first time on July 6, and will travel the country educating communities about the many dimensions of glass art.

Hot tip
In February of 2008, glass-art patriarch and Chilhuly mentor Lino Tagliapietra will present "Retrospect: A Modern Renaissance in Italian Glass" at the Museum of Glass. Considered a glass maestro, Tagliapietra brought technical secrets of Italian glass blowers to the United States, and is one of the great influences in the work of Tacoma-born Dale Chilhuly. Expect a very special presentation by this father of modern glass art in the Museum of Glass Hot Shop, say local officials. â€" Paul Schrag