Back to Archives

Get your glass down there

Glass, all glass and nothing but the glass now at the Museum of, yes, Glass.

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

Glass, all glass and nothing but glass. That seems to be the new focus of the previously misnamed Museum of Glass: International Center for Contemporary Art.

Yep, MOG got smart and did away with the last part of that heavily ambitious name and simplified its mission to reflect a direction it, perhaps, should have been going in all along. The change coincided with the hiring of new museum director Tim Close last summer.

“I became director of the Museum of Glass in June of 2006 and spent the first few months learning about the institution and the community,” Close says. “It was a period of listening — I listened to staff, to visitors, to members, to artists, to donors and to trustees. At a daylong board retreat last October, the museum’s trustees and leadership staff discussed this feedback and also our strategic goals for the future. We concluded that the museum’s mission should be refined accordingly to enhance public trust.”

The change in focus led to dropping the pretentious tagline, International Center for Contemporary Art, and focusing on — I reiterate — glass, all glass and nothing but glass.

Close says he is pleased with the newly refined mission.

“Previously, the museum had sought to exhibit glass alongside other forms of contemporary art. Now MOG is all glass, all the time. By doing so, we seek to create a seamless context where visitors can explore how artists work in the Hot Shop, participate in a hands-on activity in the education studio and have that contemplative, ‘ah ha’ moment in the gallery with a work of art. In addition, MOG will establish its curatorial authority in the field of glass by hiring a resident curator of glass, originating scholarly exhibitions and traveling MOG-organized exhibitions internationally.”

The hiring of the resident curator hasn’t happened yet, but Julie Pisto, director of marketing and communications, says the search is ongoing and will continue until the right person is found.

“Part of a museum’s DNA is its collection,” Close says. “MOG will establish a permanent collection of twentieth and twenty-first-century art made in the medium of glass with a concentration in the studio glass movement of the Pacific Northwest.”

While remaining international in scope, MOG’s concentration on works created by Northwest artists should enhance the region’s standing in world art. The modern studio glass movement, after all, is very much a Pacific Northwest phenomenon attributable to the international fame of artists such as Dale Chihuly, William Morris, Benjamin Moore and others associated with the Pilchuck Glass School.

“This initiative has immediately precipitated several new donations of artwork and acquisition funds,” Close says. Among the more recent acquisitions is Morris’ “Artifact” and additional works by Chihuly, Lino Tagliapietra and Cappy Thompson. Plus MOG continues to acquire works by visiting artists working in the Hot Shop.

Tagliapietra, a world-renown Venetian glass artist and teacher, will come to the museum as a visiting artist Oct. 24-28, and there will be a retrospective exhibition of his work in February 2008. The Tagliapietra retrospective will be “the most significant exhibition that the museum has organized to date,” Pisto says.

Thompson is the artist responsible for the large glass mural seen in the museum’s entry hall.

Currently showing in the museum are: “Mining Glass,” featuring installations by eight contemporary artists, and “Contrasts,” a glass primer with works grouped to illustrate opposing ideas, techniques, and styles.

Educational programs including hands-on workshops and glassblowing demonstrations are held on a regular basis at the museum. There is also a large gift shop. Admission to the museum is $10 adults, $8 seniors (age 62+), military and students (age 13+), $4 children 6-12, $30 families (two adults and up to four children under age 18). Admission is free every third Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. and free to children under age 6 and MOG members.

Special events and upcoming exhibitions at the Museum of Glass

September — The Mobile Hot Shop rolls down the highway taking the museum’s popular Science of Art program to schools.

Oct. 12-15 — Weekend for Bird Lovers with visiting artist Oiva Toikka from Finland. Toikka’s glass birds are popular gift items and are highly sought after by collectors worldwide.

Oct. 24-28 — The maestro and elder statesman of glassblowers, visiting artist Lino Tagliapietra from Murano, Italy, will demonstrate his art in the Hot Shop.

Nov. 7-18 — The Aussie Artists Reunion, led by Whidbey Island’s Dick Marquis, who introduced the Northwest’s studio glass movement to Southern Australia more than 30 years ago.

Nov. 23-24 — “Ho! Ho! Blow!”  East Coast vs. West Coast glassblowing teams compete to make the biggest ornament ever.

December — Illuminated Traditions, family activities that highlight diverse winter holiday celebrations.

Feb. 23 — Opening of “Lino Tagliapietra in Retrospect: A Modern Renaissance in Italian Glass,” a major international traveling exhibition.

[Museum of Glass, Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday noon to 5 p.m., Third Thursdays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., $4-$10, 1801 Dock St., Tacoma, 253.284.4750,]

comments powered by Disqus