Born in 1941 in Tacoma, Washington, Dale Chihuly was introduced to glass while studying interior design at the University of Washington. After graduating in 1965, he enrolled in the country’s first glass program, at the University of Wisconsin, and continued his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). He later established the glass program at that school and taught for more than a decade. Chihuly spent his 1968 Fulbright Fellowship at the Venini glass factory in Venice, observing the team approach to blowing glass still critical to his studio method today. With the founding of the internationally-renowned Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State, he has played a leading role in the development of glass as a fine art. His chandeliers have become icons in public buildings throughout the world, and his works have been exhibited at venues including the de Young Museum in San Francisco, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Royal Blue Mint Chandelier was included in the exhibition Dale Chihuly: Installations 1964 – 1997, on display from July 1999 to January 2000 at the former location of the Mint Museum of Craft + Design on North Tryon Street, and was purchased for the museum.
Weighing 2,200 pounds, Royal Blue Mint Chandelier is made up of hundreds of delicate, asymmetrical glass pieces that fuse craft, ornament, and design. It hangs like an exotic life-form, bunched and blue at the center and radiating sensitive tendrils. It embodies the classic elements of the renowned glassblower’s style of fluidity, scale, delicacy, and extravagance. In April 2010, a team from Chihuly’s Seattle-based studio disassembled the work at the former Mint Museum of Craft + Design on North Tryon Street, shipped it back to Washington for a thorough cleaning, and installed it in the lobby of the new Mint Museum Uptown in June 2010.
Museum Purchase: Funds provided by Bank of America, Lisa S. and Dudley B. Anderson, Leslie and John Culbertson, Patty and Bill Gorelick, Deidre and Clay Grubb, Rochelle T. Grubb, Interstate/Johnson Lane with Michael E. Blair and Robert A. Jones, Debbie and Pat Phillips, Kenneth R. and Ruth C. Samuelson, Nelson Schwab, III, Marc and Mattye Silverman, Bill and Pat Williamson, and an Anonymous Donor in memory of Amy Dodds Wilson. Accession No: 1998.131