Special Reports

A dazzling museum arrives

Because of strong winds and a snag on the shingles, the slumping 150-foot red ribbon slung around the cone Wednesday was more "this old thing" than "wearable dazzle."

"Note to self: Fix ribbon before Saturday," one guest said. "It looks like my granny's panties."

Unlike the cone, the 1,000 guests at the sold-out opening gala for the Museum of Glass: International Center for Contemporary Art mostly adhered to the dress code.

Or so it seemed from up close, with the sequins and feathers and several spattered-sneaker homages to glass artist Dale Chihuly on both men and women.

To Ed and Felice Davis of Sumner, who couldn't get tickets to the gala and crashed the party in their boat, the cone was better dressed than the crowd, despite the $250-to $1,000-a-head price tag.

"The museum looked grand against the clouds, but we did not find as much dazzle from the women as we anticipated," Felice said, commenting from her nautical perch via cellphone. "The men could have worn a few more colorful ties."

Whether they were dazzling or not, the guests were dazzled.

Politicos such as Gov. Gary Locke and wife Mona, Sen. Maria Cantwell, Reps. Norm Dicks and Adam Smith and former governor Booth Gardner mixed with arties like Chihuly, who, in his orange shirt, seemed the most popular guy at the party.

"Not bad," he said of the museum, wading through a crowd to try to get to his salmon, gazpacho and berry cobbler.

Earlier, Commencement Art Gallery director Bennett Thurmon strolled the Chihuly Bridge of Glass.

"This is the biggest step in downtown Tacoma in 10 years," he said.

Will it be enough to draw art tourists from Seattle and Bellevue?

"The shows will have to be really tantalizing," said Paulette Bufano of Seattle, a relative of a museum employee. "Because everybody takes ownership of glass in the Pacific Northwest."

Other Tacoma nonprofit arts groups were invited to the gala at a discounted rate. Mitchell Owens, executive director of the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra, scaled the grand staircase hugging the cone.

"The performing arts are going to have to do something now," he said, looking around at the outdoor art garden and 500-foot bridge.

"There's a new dynamic energy here in Tacoma," Locke said during his dinner speech.

Also speaking from a platform set in a reflecting pool were director Josi Callan, who read a congratulatory letter from the president of Iceland, and museum co-founder George Russell.

His late wife, Jane, is the namesake of Jane's Hot Shop in the cone, where Chihuly's team blew glass and the man himself made dark, ikebana-influenced drawings.

Berkeley, Calif., artist Marvin Lipofsky introduced himself while standing next to Mildred Howard's 700 floating glass apples on the museum's middle plaza.

"I'm B.C.," he said. "Before Chihuly. Most people are A.D. - after Dale."

Jen Graves: 253-597-8568



When: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, noon-5 p.m. July 7. Hours after opening weekend are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursdays; and noon-5 p.m. Sundays.

Where: 1801 Dock St., Tacoma.

Admission: $8 general, $6 seniors/students, $3 children 6-12. Timed tickets are required and available at www.ticketmaster.com or 253-627-8497.

Information: 253-284-4750 or www.museumofglass.org.

Parking: $1 per hour or $6 per day, under the museum.


Friday: Members' Day

• Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., 6 p.m.-9 p.m.

• No reservations required.

• Activities: Hot shop demonstrations, exhibition tours, performances, reception at 6 p.m.

• Memberships will be sold at the door; $50 general, $40 for educators or visitors living outside a 100-mile radius, $35 for seniors and $30 for students.

Saturday: 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

• Hot shop demonstrations: Hilltop Artists-in-Residence 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Pilchuck Glass School 1:30-5 p.m., Dale Chihuly and team 6-10 p.m.

• Exhibition, installation/architecture tours: every hour, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

• Performances of the educational drama "Owl, Fish, Gull, Wish": 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m.

• Performances by Filipino-American Youth Organization (11 a.m.-1 p.m.), University of Puget Sound Community Music Program (2-4 p.m.).

• Pilchuck Glass School slide presentation, 11 a.m.

• "Survival Under Censorship: Creativity and Content Under a Communist Regime," lecture by Katya Heller, 2 p.m.

• Remann Hall Women's Project panel discussion, 4 p.m.

• Improvisations by Tacoma School of the Arts students, afternoon.

• Ongoing artist-led activities in education studio.

Sunday: noon-5 p.m.

• Hot shop demonstrations: Pratt Fine Arts Center noon-1, Dale Chihuly and team, 1:30-5 p.m.

• Exhibition, installation/architecture tours: every hour.

• "Owl, Fish, Gull, Wish": noon, 1, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m.

• Performances by Chinese Opera R&D Association, 3-5 p.m.

• Remann Hall Women's Project panel discussion, 2 p.m.

• Student improvisations, afternoon.

• Ongoing artist-led activities in education studio.