Something big has happened to Tacoma since we left in the mid-1980s: Glass as art, and especially the glass works of Dale Chihuly. A native son of Tacoma, Chihuly's influence is seen everywhere in the downtown area.
A dilapidated train station when we last saw it, the refurbished Union Station is now leased by the Federal Government and houses federal courts, is also used as a wedding and party venue, and has an amazing display of Chihuly glass pieces in the rotunda.
Because of security concerns surrounding federal court business, we were asked to take our photos of the higher parts of the dramatic rotunda only, so all my photos are angled upward.
This hanging piece was immense!
Just past Union Station, we strolled on to the famous Bridge of Glass, which is a 500-foot long pedestrian overpass that takes you to the Museum of Glass. My pictures do absolutely nothing to give you an idea of the scale of the glass pieces on the bridge, above: Each one was at least two to three feet high, and this is just a tiny section of the side of the bridge. Go to the Bridge of Glass website for some lovely photos.
This is a small part of the ceiling of the Bridge--all Chihuly glass pieces--and it illustrates the thought that kept occurring to me: Tacoma's skies can often be gray and overcast, so the introduction of colorful glass that captures and changes the available light is the perfect pairing with the city's climate.
The next two photos will illustrate my point--check out the gray clouds, then imagine all this glass lit up at night.
Once we were inside the Museum itself, we spent some time admiring the creativity happening in the Hot Shop, where art is made from molten glass.
Here is the interior of the Hot Shop's chimney, a 90-foot tall stainless steel cone that we could see from our room at the Hotel Murano. As I may have mentioned before, the hotel itself was filled with glass pieces like the suspended glass canoe, below.