1 Mar 2011



Creates temporary installations outdoors at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and Salk Institute of Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. Presents exhibition at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Chihuly in Nashville opens with exhibitions at Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Frist Center for the Arts, along with performances of Bluebeard's Castle. The opera, featuring his set, is also performed in Tel Aviv by the Israeli Opera.


Begins Silvered series. Mounts a garden exhibition at Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus, Ohio. Participates in 53rd Venice Biennale with  Mille Fiori Venezia installation. Creates largest commission with multiple installations at island resort of Sentosa, Singapore.


Presents major exhibition at de Young Museum, San Francisco. Returns to his alma mater with an exhibition at RISD Museum of Art. Exhibits at  Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.


Exhibits at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Pittsburgh. Creates stage set for Seattle Symphony's production of Béla Bartók's opera Bluebeard's Castle.


Mother, Viola, dies at age ninety-eight in Tacoma, Washington. Begins Black series with a Cylinder blow. Presents glasshouse exhibitions at Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, and New York Botanical Garden. Chihuly in Tacomahotshop sessions at Museum of Glassreunites Chihuly and glassblowers from important periods of his career. A film, Chihuly in the Hotshop, documents this event.


Marries Leslie Jackson. Mounts major garden exhibition at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, outside London. Exhibits at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables, Florida.


Orlando Museum of Art and Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida, become first museums to collaborate and present simultaneous major exhibitions of his work. Presents glasshouse and outdoor exhibition at Atlanta Botanical Garden.


Begins the Fiori series with gaffer Joey DeCamp for the opening exhibition at Tacoma Art Museum's new building. TAM designs a permanent installation for its Chihuly collection. Chihuly at the Conservatory opens at Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus, Ohio. Chihuly Drawing is published by Portland Press.


Creates installations for the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. Chihuly Bridge of Glass, conceived by Chihuly and designed in collaboration with Arthur Andersson of Andersson·Wise Architects, is dedicated in Tacoma, Washington.


Chihuly at the V&A opens at Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Groups a series of Chandeliers for the first time, as an installation for Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Receives honorary doctorate from University of Hartford, in Connecticut. Presents his first major glasshouse exhibition, Chihuly in the Park, a Garden of Glass at Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago. Artist Italo Scanga dies after more than three decades as friend and mentor.


Designs and exhibits Crystal Tree of Light for White House Millennium Celebration; it will be installed later at Clinton Presidential Center, Little Rock, Arkansas, in 2004. Creates La Tour de Lumière sculpture for Contemporary American Sculpture exhibition in Monte Carlo. More than a million visitors enter Tower of David Museum to see Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem 2000, breaking world attendance record for a temporary exhibition during 1999-2000. Receives honorary doctorate from Brandeis University. Chihuly Projects is published by Portland Press and distributed by Harry N. Abrams, Inc.


Begins Jerusalem Cylinder series with gaffer James Mongrain in concert with Flora C. Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick. Chihuly mounts a challenging exhibition: Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem 2000, for which he creates fifteen installations within an ancient fortress, now Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem. Travels to Victoria and Albert Museum, London, to unveil eighteen-foot Chandelier gracing its main entrance. Returns to Jerusalem to create a sixty-foot wall from twenty-four massive blocks of ice shipped from Alaska.


Participates in Sydney Arts Festival in Australia. A son, Jackson Viola Chihuly, is born February 12 to Dale Chihuly and Leslie Jackson. Two large Chandeliers are created for Benaroya Hall , home of Seattle Symphony. Chihuly's largest sculpture to date, the Fiori di Como, is installed in  Bellagio Resort lobby in Las Vegas. Creates a major installation for Atlantis on Paradise Island, Bahamas. PBS stations air Chihuly Over Venice, the nation’s first high-definition television (HDTV) broadcast.


Expands work with experimental plastics he calls Polyvitro in his newly renovated Ballard Studio. Chihuly is designed by Massimo Vignelli and copublished by Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, and Portland Press, Seattle. An installation of Chihuly’s work opens at Hakone Glass Forest, Ukai Museum, in Hakone, Japan. Chihuly and his team invite local high school students to photograph a blow and installation at Vianne factory in France.


After a blow in Monterrey, Mexico, Chihuly Over Venice culminates with  fourteen Chandeliers installed all over Venice. Chihuly Over Venice begins  national tour at Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri. Chihuly purchases a building in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood for use as mock-up and studio space. Creates a major installation for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Governor’s Ball after Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood, California. Creates his first permanent outdoor installation, Icicle Creek Chandelier, for Sleeping Lady Conference Retreat in Leavenworth, Washington. Receives honorary doctorate from Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington.


Cerulean Blue Macchia with Chartreuse Lip Wrap is added to the White House Collection of American Crafts. Chihuly Over Venice begins with a glassblowing session in Nuutajärvi, Finland, and subsequent blow at Waterford Crystal factory, Ireland. Creates Chihuly a Spoleto, an installation for 38th Spoleto Festival of the Two Worlds, in Spoleto, Italy. Receives honorary doctorate from Pratt Institute, New York.


Chihuly at Union Station, five installations for Tacoma’s Union Station Federal Courthouse, is sponsored by the Executive Council for a Greater Tacoma and organized by Tacoma Art Museum. Supports Hilltop Artists, a glassblowing program in Tacoma, Washington, for at-risk youths, created by friend Kathy Kaperick. Within two years the program partners with Tacoma Public School District. Discussions begin on a project to build Museum of Glass on Thea Foss Waterway in Tacoma and design the Chihuly Bridge of Glass, to connect the museum to Tacoma's university district.


Begins Piccolo Venetian series with Lino Tagliapietra. Alumni Association of University of Washington names him Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus, its most prestigious honor. Creates 100,000 Pounds of Ice and Neon, a temporary installation in Tacoma Dome, Tacoma, Washington, attended by 35,000 visitors in four days.
Begins Chandelier series with a hanging sculpture for Dale Chihuly: Installations 1964–1992, curated by Patterson Sims at Seattle Art Museum. Honored as the first National Living Treasure by the Institute for Human Potential, University of North Carolina, Wilmington. Designs sets for Seattle Opera production of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, premiering in 1993. The Pilchuck Stumps are created during this project but not widely exhibited.


Begins Niijima Float series with Richard Royal as gaffer, creating some of the largest pieces of glass ever blown by hand. Completes architectural installations, including those for GTE World Headquarters in Irving, Texas, and Yasui Konpira-gu Shinto Shrine in Kyoto, Japan. He and Sylvia Peto divorce.


Purchases historic Pocock Building located on Lake Union, realizing his dream of being on the water in Seattle. Renovated and renamed The Boathouse, it serves as studio, hotshop, and archives. Returns to Japan.


With Italian glass masters Lino Tagliapietra and Pino Signoretto, and a team of glassblowers at Pilchuck, begins Putti series. With Tagliapietra, Chihuly creates Ikebana series, inspired by travels to Japan and exposure to ikebana masters.


Inspired by a private collection of Italian Art Deco glass, begins Venetian series. Working from Chihuly’s drawings, Lino Tagliapietra serves as gaffer. Receives honorary doctorate from California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland.



Establishes his first hotshop in Van de Kamp Building near Lake Union in Seattle. Begins working hot glass on a larger scale and creates several site-specific installations, including Puget Sound Forms for Seattle Aquarium. Donates permanent collection to Tacoma Art Museum in memory of his brother and father. Begins association with Parks Anderson, commencing with Rainbow Room Frieze, an installation for the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center in New York City. Marries playwright Sylvia Peto.


Begins Persian series with Martin Blank as gaffer, assisted by Robbie Miller. With Dale Chihuly objets de verre at Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palais du Louvre, in Paris, he becomes one of only four Americans to have had a one-person exhibition at the Louvre. Receives honorary doctorates from RISD and University of Puget Sound, Tacoma.


Returns to Baden, Austria, this time to teach with
William Morris, Flora C. Mace, and Joey Kirkpatrick. 
Purchases the Buffalo Shoe Company building on the 
east side of Lake Union in Seattle and begins restoring
it for use as a primary studio and residence.


Begins work on Soft Cylinder series, with Flora Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick executing the glass drawings. Honored as RISD President’s Fellow at the Whitney Museum in New York and receives Visual Artists Award from American Council for the Arts and the first of three state Governor’s Arts Awards.


Sells the Boathouse in Rhode Island and returns to the Pacific Northwest after sixteen years on the East Coast. Further develops Macchia series at Pilchuck, with William Morris as chief gaffer.


With William Morris, tours 1,000 miles of Brittany by bicycle in spring. First major catalog is published: Chihuly: Glass, designed by an RISD colleague and friend, Malcolm Grear.


Begins Macchia series, using up to 300 colors of glass. His mother dubs these wildly spotted, brightly colored forms "the uglies," but his friend Italo Scanga eventually christens them Macchia, Italian for "spotted."


Resigns his teaching position at RISD but returns periodically in the 1980s as artist-in-residence. Begins Seaform series at Pilchuck. In Providence, creates another architectural installation: windows for Shaare Emeth Synagogue in St. Louis, Missouri. Purchases his first building, the Boathouse, in Pawtuxet Cove, Rhode Island, for his residence and studio.


Dislocates his shoulder in a bodysurfing accident and relinquishes the gaffer position for good. William Morris becomes his chief gaffer for several years. Chihuly begins to make drawings as a way to communicate his designs. Together with Morris, Benjamin Moore, and student assistants Michael Scheiner and Richard Royal, he blows glass in Baden, Austria.


Meets Pilchuck student William Morris, and the two begin a close, eight-year working relationship. A solo show curated by Michael W. Monroe at the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C., is another career milestone.





Inspired by Northwest Coast Indian baskets he sees at Washington State Historical Society in Tacoma, begins the Basket series at Pilchuck, with Benjamin Moore as gaffer. Continues teaching in both Rhode Island and the Pacific Northwest. Charles Cowles curates a show at Seattle Art Museum of  works by Chihuly, Italo Scanga, and James Carpenter.


Visits Great Britain and Ireland with Seaver Leslie. An automobile accident in England leaves him, after weeks in the hospital and 256 stitches in his face, without sight in his left eye and with permanent damage to his right ankle and foot. After recuperating at the home of painter Peter Blake, he returns to Providence to serve as head of the Department of Sculpture and the Program in Glass at RISD. He invites Robert Grosvenor, Fairfield Porter, Dennis Oppenheim, Alan Seret, and John Torreano to RISD as visiting artists. Henry Geldzahler, curator of contemporary art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, acquires three Navajo Blanket Cylinders for the museum’s collectiona turning point in Chihuly’s career. A friendship between artist and curator commences.


At RISD, begins Navajo Blanket Cylinders series. Kate Elliott and, later, Flora C. Mace fabricate the complex thread drawings. He receives the first of two National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist grants. Artist-in-residence with Seaver Leslie at Artpark, on the Niagara Gorge, in New York State. Begins Irish Cylinders and Ulysses Cylinders with Leslie and Mace.


Tours European glass centers with Thomas Buechner of Corning Museum of Glass and Paul Schulze, head of Design Department at Steuben Glass. Makes his first significant purchase of art, La Donna Perfecta, an Art Deco glass mosaic. In Santa Fe, New Mexico, he builds a glass shop for the Institute of American Indian Arts. Supported by a National Endowment for the Arts grant at Pilchuck, James Carpenter, a group of students, and he develop a technique to pick up glass thread drawings. In December at RISD, he completes his last collaborative project with Carpenter, Corning Wall.


While he is at Pilchuck, his studio on Hobart Street in Providence burns down. Returns to Venice with Carpenter to blow glass for Glas heute exhibition at Museum Bellerive, Zurich, Switzerland. They collaborate on more large-scale architectural projects and, using only static architectural structures, create Rondel Door and Cast Glass Door at Pilchuck. In Providence, they have a conceptual breakthrough with Dry Ice, Bent Glass and Neon.


On the site of a tree farm owned by Seattle art patrons Anne Gould Hauberg and John Hauberg, the Pilchuck Glass School experiment is started. A $2,000 grant to Chihuly and Ruth Tamura from the Union of Independent Colleges of Art and funding from the Haubergs provide seed money.  Pilchuck Glass School grows into an institution with a profound impact on artists working in glass worldwide. Chihuly’s first environmental installation at Pilchuck is created that summer. In fall, at RISD, he
creates 20,000 Pounds of Ice and Neon and
Glass Forest #1, and Glass Forest #2 with James
Carpenter, installations that prefigure later environmental
works by Chihuly.


While Chihuly and friends shut down RISD to protest U.S. offensive in Cambodia, he and student John Landon develop ideas for an alternative school in the Pacific Northwest, inspired by Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. Meets artist Buster Simpson, who later works with Chihuly and Landon at the school. Meets James Carpenter, a student in the illustration department, and they begin a four-year collaboration.


Returns to Europe, this time with his mother, visiting relatives in Sweden and making pilgrimages to meet glass masters Erwin Eisch in Germany and Jaroslava Brychtová and Stanislav Libenský in Czechoslovakia. Establishes the glass program at RISD, where he teaches full time for the next eleven years. Students include Hank Adams, Howard Ben Tré, James Carpenter, Dan Dailey, Michael Glancy, Roni Horn, Flora C. Mace, Mark McDonnell, Benjamin Moore, Pike Powers, Michael Scheiner, Paul Seide, Therman Statom, Steve Weinberg and Toots Zynsky.



Receives M.F.A. in Ceramics from RISD. Awarded a Fulbright Fellowship, enabling him to travel and work in Europe. Invited by architect Ludovico de Santillana, son-in-law of Paolo Venini, Chihuly becomes the first American glassblower to work in the prestigious Venini Fabrica on the island of Murano. Back in the United States, spends the first of four consecutive summers teaching at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine. Its director, Fran Merritt, becomes a friend and lifetime mentor.


Receives M.S. in Sculpture from University of Wisconsin. Enrolls at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in Providence, where he begins exploration of environmental works using neon, argon, and blown glass. Visits Montreal World Exposition ’67 and is inspired by the architectural glass works of Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová at the Czechoslovak pavilion. Awarded a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant for work in glass. Italo Scanga, then teaching in Pennsylvania State University’s Art Department, lectures at RISD, and the two begin a lifelong friendship. They consider themselves brothers.


Earns money for graduate school as a commercial fisherman in Alaska. Enters University of Wisconsin at Madison, on a full scholarship, and studies glassblowing under Harvey Littleton. It was the first glass program in the United States.


Receives B.A. in Interior Design from University of Washington and works as a designer for John Graham Architects in Seattle. Introduced to textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen, who becomes a mentor and friend. Experimenting in his basement studio, Chihuly blows his first glass bubble by melting stained glass and using a metal pipe. Awarded Highest Honors from the American Institute of Interior Designers (now ASID).


While still a student, receives the Seattle Weavers Guild Award for innovative use of glass and fiber. Returns to Europe, visits Leningrad, and makes the first of many trips to Ireland.


Works on a kibbutz in the Negev Desert. Meets architect Robert Landsman in Jericho, Jordan, and they visit the site of ancient Petra. Reinspired, returns to University of Washington, College of Arts and Sciences, and studies under Hope Foote and Warren Hill. In a weaving class with Doris Brockway, he incorporates glass shards into woven tapestries.


Disillusioned with his studies, he leaves school and travels to Florence to study art. Unable to speak Italian, he moves on to the Middle East.


Joins Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity and becomes
rush chairman. Learns to melt and fuse glass.


Graduates from high school in Tacoma. His mother persuades him to enroll at College of Puget Sound (now University of Puget Sound) in his hometown. The next year, his term paper on Van Gogh and his remodeling of his mother's recreation room motivate him to transfer to University of Washington in Seattle to study interior design and architecture.


His father suffers a fatal heart attack at age 51, and his mother has to go to work.


Older brother and only sibling, George, dies in a Naval Air Force training accident in Pensacola, Florida.





Born September 20 in Tacoma, Washington, to George Chihuly a butcher and union organizer, and Viola Magnuson Chihuly, a homemaker and avid gardener. His father is predominantly of Hungarian, Czech, and Slavic ancestry; his mother, Swedish and Norwegian.

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