Published: Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Glass art inspires kids, awes adults

FAMILY TIME | By Katya Yefimova
Herald writer

Courtesy Chihuly Garden and Glass

Children and glass objects don't always mix well.
But they do at Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit, which opened at Seattle Center in May.
The new center showcases the works of Dale Chihuly, a Pacific Northwest artist renowned for his large-scale glass installations.
The exhibit replaced the Fun Forest, the timeworn amusement park so well-loved by young visitors to Seattle Center.
The rides may be gone, but most little ones won't be disappointed by the iridescent world of sea creatures and whimsical objects waiting inside the Chihuly center.
Children interact with the artwork in a special way, said Chihuly Garden and Glass Executive Director Michelle Bufano.
“This wonderful thing happens to kids when they are in the exhibition and they really are completely engaged,” she said.
She recalled seeing a group of third-graders who toured the center on opening day and how they were overwhelmed with the colors and the size of the sculptures.
Something about the way installations are lit holds a special magic for children, Bufano said.
Walking through the exhibition, you can see children sitting on the floor, trying to get a different perspective on the sculptures.
One of the installations is a glass garden sprawling with wild-colored flowers and spheres. The garden was inspired by the artist's mother's flower garden.
Another work, the “Persian Ceiling,” had visitors looking up at the sea creatures and colorful swirls of glass scattered on the other side of the clear ceiling.
On a recent weekday afternoon, a few children's voices called out the objects they recognized: a cupid, a seashell, a starfish.
Chihuly's signature chandeliers also are featured at the center.
When children walk in the door, they get a guide designed to inspire them and to teach them about the artwork, Bufano said.
Adults can get one, too.
“There's something about the fact that Chihuly is such a big collector that encourages kids … to really understand that the things that surround you in life are the things that inspire you,” Bufano said.
The ticket to Chihuly Garden and Glass is $19 for adults, $15 for those who live in King County and $12 for children ages 4 to 12. Kids under 3 get in free. It's also possible to buy a combined ticket to the museum and the Space Needle Observation Deck at $33 for adults or $21 for children ages 4 to 12.
For parents concerned that their children may break one of the glass installations: Bufano said not to worry. Most sculptures are displayed on platforms and would be difficult for your little ones to reach.
If you go
To learn more or to plan your visit to Chihuly Garden and Glass, visit The exhibit is at 305 Harrison St., Seattle. Or call 206-753-4940.
A fun game: To get your kids interacting with the exhibit, ask them to look for the forms and shapes they recognize in the installations.