The Chihuly Bridge of Glass is Tacoma's stunning link to the Thea Foss Waterway and the Museum of Glass. The 500-foot pedestrian bridge holds three amazing Chihuly glass installations, open to the public 24 hours a day. Linger at sunset on a date, and you'll see why it's one of the most romantic places in Washington.
Getting there: From Pacific Avenue, you'll cross under the arches of the Washington State History Museum and arrive at the first glass installation, the Seaform Pavilion. The pavilion ceiling was created with over two thousand glass objects, and you will feel like you are underwater at a great coral reef of beautiful glass shapes. The crystal towers at the center of the bridge capture daylight and shine as if they have a light of their own. The blue translucent crystals call to mind images of cool blue glacial ice and change their appearance at different times throughout the day. At night, they are illuminated from below and add to the night skyline. Venetian Wall 109 Chihuly sculptures fill the eighty-foot-long wall (pictured above, with the Museum of Glass Cone behind). With a variety of sculptures throughout, including some of the largest ever blown, you will emerge from the Bridge with a new appreciation of glass art.
The bridge is the gateway that welcomes people to Tacoma. We wanted something unique in the world, something that is full of color and offers a joyous experience to passersby both night and day. —Dale Chihuly
A partnership between the Museum of Glass, legendary Studio Glass pioneer Dale Chihuly and the city of Tacoma resulted in the Chihuly Bridge of Glass, a 500-foot-long pedestrian overpass links the Museum to downtown Tacoma and its cultural corridor. Austin-based Arthur Andersson, architect of the Washington State History Museum, designed the bridge in close collaboration with Chihuly, who directed the artistic concept. The bridge provides a means for the internationally-renowned Chihuly to contribute in a very public way to his hometown.
Three distinct installations comprise the Bridge of Glass. Furthest from the Museum is the Seaform Pavilion, a ceiling made of 2,364 objects from Chihuly's Seaform and Persian series. Placed on top of a fifty-by-twenty-foot plate-glass ceiling, the forms are suspended in midair and make dramatic use of natural light. As visitors walk under this pavilion, they experience a seemingly underwater world of glass shapes and forms a few feet above their heads.
Marking the center of the bridge are the Crystal Towers, which rise forty feet above the bridge deck and serve as beacons of light for the bridge and city. Illuminated from below, the forms glow at night. The 63 large crystals in each tower are made from Polyvitro, a polyurethane material developed to withstand the elements. The Crystal Tower elements are raw, brutal forms, monumental and bold, that appear as if cut from mountain peaks or taken from frozen alpine lakes.
At the approach to the Museum is the Venetian Wall, an eighty-foot installation displaying 109 sculptures from three of Chihuly's series: Venetians, Ikebana, and Putti. The Venetians are exuberant sculptures with origins in Venetian Art Deco glass. Ikebana is quiet pieces, created in the spirit of traditional Japanese floral arrangements. Putti were popular figures in European art of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and represent Cupid, the Roman god of love. The Venetian Wall is a collection of some of the largest blown-glass works executed in the history of the medium.