Tacoma’s landmarkingly “coned” Museum of Glass is set have a birthday with its 10th anniversary next month that will involve something it generally tries to avoid – broken glass.
“Shatter Sessions” on July 13 will pit musicians against physics as band after band will play short sets with the goal of not only entertaining crowds but shattering glass. Friends and Family, Joy Wants Eternity and Hot Bodies in Motion will all get their shot at the microphone before arts patrons can have a go. Test runs show it can be done.
“I was actually kind of scared the first time,” MOG spokeswoman Susan Newsom said after watching a demonstration.
MOG will also have carnival games, raffles, its traditional tent sale on items from the gift shop and “cone head” hat making through the weekend.
“It is kind of just a big community party,” Newsom said.
The anniversary will also be marked by the opening on June 30 of a new exhibition featuring the work of Lino Tagliapietra. The show “Maestro: Recent Works by Lino Tagliapietra” showcases 65 glass masterpieces created during the past decade. The works displayed demonstrate his evolution to larger works and use of bolder colors and patterns over his nearly 50 years as an artist.
“It is a privilege to host this exhibition – yet another salute to Lino’s lifetime of artistic achievement – at Museum of Glass,” said Executive Director Susan Warner. “This body of work was created during the same timeframe that the museum has been in existence. To celebrate this magnificent artist, who has influenced and inspired so many of the artists and visitors who have come through our doors, while we celebrate our first decade of service is very fitting.”
Since it opened in 2012, almost 2 million visitors have strolled through the museum’s galleries and watched glass art making in the Hot Shop, making it one of Tacoma’s main tourist attractions. The landmark flipping of the museum’s visitor tally could come later this summer. Statistically speaking, that visitor will come from outside Pierce County since the visitor demographics swing dramatically throughout the year. Many schools and local groups tour the museum during the fall, winter and spring, while most tourists visit during the summer.
But even those group tours come from as far away as Oregon and Canada, adding to the museum’s economic impact of about $10 million a year.
“We get people from all over,” Warner said.
Warner has worked at MOG that entire time. She joined the staff as the director of education in early 2001, as the museum was preparing to open. In 2006 she was appointed director of public programs, overseeing the curatorial, education and Hot Shop departments, and in 2009 was appointed deputy director. In October 2011 Warner also assumed the role of curator and then was named the executive director in March. She has seen the museum from its start to its present and is well on her way to plotting its future.
“I was very excited at the amazing opportunity it was to come to a museum at the ground floor,” she said. “We were basically the only building down here.”
Others would follow, namely Tacoma Art Museum, the expansion of the University of Washington-Tacoma and now condominiums and shops. But the recession has taken its toll, as it has on other museums around the nation, Warner said, noting that the museum’s budget and staff have shrunk by about 30 percent. With the economy on the mend, the museum is now restarting many of those programs.
“We are rebuilding,” she said, noting that the museum has always had a solid educational program for school-age children, but is expanding that with programs to keep interest in the arts alive in 20 and 30 year olds.
“We have to stay relevant to the next generation,” she said.
The Museum was designed by acclaimed architect Arthur Erickson.
The museum opened in 2002.
The 90-foot-tall cone references the wood-burning sawmills once common in the region.
2,800 stainless steel shingles cover the cone exterior.
The cone tilts 17 degrees to the north.
The museum welcomed its one millionth visitor in August 2007, shortly after its fifth anniversary.
The three reflecting pools on the Museum's plaza hold a total of 79,000 gallons of water.
The Chihuly Bridge of Glass is 500 feet long.
The Chihuly Bridge of Glass was commissioned by the City of Tacoma in partnership with Dale Chihuly and the museum.