Wow! Just wow! I almost can’t say enough about the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum in Seattle. I’ve been a fan of Chihuly’s large-scale glass pieces for a while now, ever since seeing his piece in the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska. So naturally, I jumped at the chance to visit this beautiful space dedicated entirely to Chihuly’s work.
Entering the museum was easy, although the walk to the museums and garden can be a bit of a trek. You can use the “valet parking” drop-off zone of the Space Needle, but otherwise, it’s about a 5-minute walk from the nearest parking. While it’s not exceptionally hilly, there were some gentle inclines. Once inside the museum, there’s a bathroom off the main entrance that was wheelchair accessible, although nothing noteworthy.
The Indoor Exhibits:
The entire museum is on one floor—my favorite museum feature! The spaces were wide open, and there were plenty of benches around, so anyone needing a break could easily take a seat and observe the artwork. There were so many amazing photo opportunities, and I loved seeing the different Chihuly collections. I had this idea in my head of what all his artwork must look like—the giant glass chandeliers—but he has actually done countless collections of art all with different styles.
There’s also a theater room, which was spacious and had plenty of low bench seating. This made it easy for me to transfer out of my chair and sit with my family for a while. I’m a total museum girl, so I made us sit through each of the films TWICE before leaving. Why go to a museum if you don’t want to learn about the artist? It was so neat to see his entire process, and how his team works together to create the large installation pieces.
The exhibit rooms have plenty of space to move around in, without being so large that it’s tiring to get through the entire museum. Once you’ve looked at all the indoor spaces, you don’t want to miss the glass house and garden.
The garden space is stunning as well. In addition to the pieces of artwork, the plants growing are fascinating to look at. There’s also a repurposed vintage airstream trailer they’ve turned into their “community hot shop” and demonstration studio. Be sure to check the schedule for this when you arrive, we didn’t make it to that part until they were wrapping up for the day. If we’d known, we would have gone there first! This space was easy to roll to, and there was seating available to stay and listen to a demo.
Gift Shop & Cafe:
There is a cute gift shop at the exit of the museum. While it’s accessible, it is a bit tighter of a fit than the spacious galley rooms. So for someone with a larger power wheelchair or a large stroller, it might be harder to get around. The café was closed when we visited, so I can’t give any accessibility tips, but the menu we saw looked great. So next time I’m in Seattle, I want to go back and try it.
As you can see from the photos, this place is stunning! I would consider it a must-see, even though it’s a little more expensive than other museums we visit. Next time, I’ll bring my sketchbook and spend even more time enjoying the space. Even though the entire museum collection was made of glass, and there were plenty of security guards around, I never felt like I wasn’t welcome to roll around and even get close to the pieces. Sometimes museum staff see someone petite on wheels and get nervous, but everyone here was great.
You can read more details about the museum’s accessibility measures on their website. This includes information for guests with low or no vision, who are deaf, or those with sensory concerns. I appreciate it when any museum takes the time to try and think through these concerns to make all guests welcome.