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It’s spring... have a blast with glass!

by John Fannin TACOMA – I’ll admit going outside and roaming around downtown Tacoma isn’t the first thing that comes to mind on this, the first day of spring. Tacoma sadly has an unfortunate reputation for crime and for years it’s been infamous for the “Tacoma aroma.” But Seattle’s neighbor to the south changed my impression two weeks ago when I was in Tacoma covering the 3A girls State basketball tourney. With a couple of hours to sight-see, I hopped on the free, yes free, light rail near the Tacoma Dome and decided to check out the Museum of Glass. I never made it for a tour of the museum because there were so many great things glass-related to see before I even got to the museum’s entrance. And they were all free! I love history and architecture, and the glass artwork blends nicely with the neighboring larger-than-life, century-old Union Station, now a federal courthouse and a must-see in its own right. Famed artist Dale Chihuly has done well by his hometown of Tacoma with all the public glass art he and others have created and presented totally free to the public at the city’s waterfront area. It’s indeed spring, so step outside and have a blast with glass the next time you’re in Tacoma. - John Fannin can be reached at jfannin@dailysunnews.com or at 837-4500.

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Photo by John Fannin

Union Station, now a federal courthouse, is one of many public buildings in Tacoma displaying Chihuly glass artwork for viewing free of charge. Union Station is just a few steps from the Museum of Glass and the UW Tacoma library, which also has Chihuly art on display.

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Photo by John Fannin

Rising up from the Tacoma waterfront with its signature tilted cone, the Museum of Glass opened in 2002. The 90-foot steel cone has an amphitheater for audiences to watch glass artists work live at the museum’s hot shop.

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Photo by John Fannin

Art imitates architecture throughout the outdoor public art displays near the Museum of Glass. An example is Martin Blank’s Fluent Steps with cascading islands of glass in a reflecting pool with shapes that seem to mirror the outline of a bridge and the Tacoma Dome in the distance.

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Photo by John Fannin

You’ll want to stop and look up often when you cross the Chihuly Bridge of Glass that leads visitors to the Museum of Glass. A ceiling covering one part of the bridge is filled with wild, imaginative Chihuly creations.

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Photo by John Fannin

An impressive feature of the Chihuly Bridge of Glass is the 80-foot long Venetian Wall displaying 109 original sculptures created by the Tacoma native. The wall and its enclosed art pieces are intended to reflect natural sunlight. Like other outdoor art displays near the Museum of Glass, the wall is illuminated at night.

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Photo by John Fannin

The twin Crystal Towers both stand 40-feet tall and each is decked out with 63 large glass crystals. The towers are intended as beacons of light welcoming visitors to the Chihuly Bridge of Glass that connects to the museum.

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