Background knowledge: While studying interior design at the University of Washington, Dale Chihuly was introduced to glass. He enrolled in the first glass program in the country. He decided to continue his studies and later established a glass program at the Rhode Island School of Design where he taught for more than a decade. In 1968, he proceeded to work at the Venini Glass Factory in Venice, Italy. At Venini he observed the team approach to blowing glass. His experience at Venini was crucial to the way he works today. Chihuly plays a major role in the development of glass as a fine art. He co-founded the Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington. His work is displayed in over 200 museums worldwide.
I was lucky enough to visit one of those exhibitions at the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden in Miami, Florida. The exhibition at Fairchild is one of the largest and inclusive to date. His sculptures are scattered organically within Fairchild’s 83 acres. Visitors can take the daytime tour where the beautiful sculptures are illuminated by the natural sunlight, or the sunset tour where they can catch a glimpse of the fading sunlight reflecting off the spectacular pieces. Fairchild Garden offers narrated tram tours and guided tours for the daytime visit and day & night Glass Pass. The last tram tour is at 5:00 p.m. Please note, if you purchase the Night Glass Pass there are no tram tours. If you would like to view the exhibition at your own pace, the staff at Fairchild provides all of its’ customers with a map and booklet of Chihuly’s pieces. The booklet provides a photo of each exhibit with a description for your knowledge.
We decided to visit Chihuly at Fairchild – Night Glass Pass. It was b-e-a-utiful, as the art was illuminated by special recessed floor lights. I recommend purchasing the Day & Night pass to see the exhibition at both hours of the day. There really is an enormous difference in the way the art is presented at different times. The park is large, so feel free to take some blankets and a basket of food and beverages. You can lay throughout the park and enjoy the day. They also have The Glasshouse Café and The Lakeside Café where you can grab some food and drinks. The garden is very relaxing and the staff is wonderful. It is filled with plants, birds, butterflies, and occasionally more wildlife like gators and turtles. This is definitely a must in Miami.