Museum of Glass – Tacoma, WA

Monday, as I traveled from Olympia to Mount Vernon, Washington I stopped in Tacoma to visit this museum.  The admission price had been reduced because one of the major display areas was closed to set up a new exhibit but there were still lots of things to see and do.

One of the current exhibits was a little confusing to me at the time but since I have learned more about it I guess it is starting to make sense.  It is called “Foraging the Hive” and is a large room with thousands of glass test tubes hanging from the ceiling:

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Each test tube contains tiny, random items.  The artist’s intent is to mimic the behavior of bees, who gather and manipulate pollen to populate identically shaped chambers in their hive.  The artist wanted people (friends, family, museum employees and even museum visitors) to gather, manipulate and place items of their choosing into glass test tubes which are then sealed with beeswax and become part of the “hive”.

The large room with the current exhibit had black lines on the floor which visitors aren’t supposed to cross but out in the main lobby were some examples of what’s inside the glass test tubes so I took a few closeups of those:

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I wished I had some tiny helicopter parts or other items from home so since I didn’t have anything “uniquely JohnBoy” I didn’t create any test tubes of my own to add to the work.

Another place to visit in the Museum was their “Hot Shop”.  There was a Visiting Artist from Seattle named Brent Rogers (black t-shirt, center of the photo facing away from the camera) who was finishing up a piece he had been working on.  The woman in the lower right corner was providing commentary on what was taking place and there were several helpers scurrying about.  There was also someone working a video camera and there was a large TV screen where closeups of the work-in-progress were displayed and showed exactly what was being done to it.  I was at a museum and hot shop in St. Petersburg, Florida back in January and watched a vase being made from start to finish.  It was quite interesting to see all the steps involved and how colors and patterns are added to the final product.

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During breaks the artist and workers are available to answer questions from the visitors watching from the stadium-style seats.

The Museum also has a one-of-a-kind Mobile Hot Shop which they take to schools, art festivals, State Fairs, etc. to promote interest in the field of glassblowing.

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