Monday, January 24, 2011

Chihuly at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis

I've been lucky enough to visit some of the best art museums from around the world, like the Louvre, the Prado, the Uffizi Gallery and the Art Institute of Chicago, but I'll be the first to admit that my knowledge of art, art history and artists themselves is a little fuzzy. Instead of getting caught up in all that I don't know, I just try to enjoy discovering what I like and which artists capture my attention. I'm typically drawn to colorful, cheerful pieces (especially those inspired by nature) and so it will come as no surprise that one of my favorite artists is Dale Chihuly. His glasswork is often full of whimsy and certainly never dull.

The centerpiece of the Children's Museum of Indianapolis is a piece by Chihuly called Fireworks of Glass. It's his largest permanent sculpture and stands 43 feet tall. The museum has rightfully placed it in the middle of the ramp system that leads you from floor to floor at the museum, ensuring that it is admired by all who visit (more than 1 million each year, as it is the largest children's museum in the world!)

The museum did more than give this sculpture prime real estate. It also created a hands-on exhibit for kids to explore. I knew the arrow would love it and so we headed straight there when we arrived. At this exhibit, he could pick up various "faux" glass pieces, which look exactly like those on the sculpture, and move them about, connect them in various places, and get a sense of the enormous puzzle that had to be solved in order to build Chihuly's work of art. He loved seeing all the colors and feeling the various textures and figuring out all the shapes and how he might be able to place them. And as a parent, how fun is it to let your child touch the art?

When we got home from the museum, I did some more research on Chihuly. While I've always admired his work, I never realized that he's everywhere. This list on his website details all of his public installations around the world. According to this site, he has work in 33 states and 12 countries. (I'm proud to say that there are two sculptures here in Columbus, Indiana!) Now that I know the arrow is equally enthusiastic about Chihuly, I'm daydreaming of going on a Chihuly-inspired trip around the country and the world. Wouldn't it be fun to see them all?

For now, maybe we'll start with a stop at the Chihuly Collection at the Morean Art Center in St. Petersburg, Florida when we visit next month. In fact, I'm sure we can incorporate Chihuly art into many trips we take in the years to come. (Of course, we might have to have a little talk with the arrow about not touching it, huh?)

I loved this quote on display at the museum here in Indianapolis. Mr. Chihuly, I know at least one child who was full of joy after experiencing your creative genius. Bravo to you and your team for executing such a masterpiece and bringing it to a space to be enjoyed by so many children.

Check out my tips for visiting a children's museum if you're planning a trip to the Children's Museum of Indianapolis (or any other museum).

This post is a part of Mondays are for Dreaming at The Mother of All Trips and Spotlight Thursday at Trekaroo.

Disclosure: My admission to the Children's Museum of Indianapolis was complimentary. I was under no obligation to write about our time there. The opinions expressed here are my own.


  1. Chihuly pieces are fun...I've seen some them in Kalamazoo, MI, and Toledo, OH (yup, expect to see Chihuly make an appearance at Midwest Guest soonish. :)

    This looks like a great piece-and massive compared to some of the works I've seen. The hands-on component of the exhibit looks like a lot of fun.

  2. When your post opened up, my first thought was that I had seen this type of artwork before so I did a little search of my own (thank goodness for the Internet, right?!) and found out that a beautiful piece we saw a few years ago at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art was done by Chihuly. Thanks for the info and sparking my interest!

  3. I love that the artwork is giving such a prime spot - and that kids can touch replicas of the work. What a great discovery!

  4. I have seen some amazing installations of his work, including a wonderful exhibition at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. He also has a huge sculpture in the casino at the Atlantis Resort.

    Love, love, love that kids get to interact with the art in this way! Forget children's museums, every *art* museum should offer opportunities like this.

  5. I'm fascinated by Chihuly too! He's pretty seems like you can find his work everywhere once you start looking for it.

    Great photos of your kiddo touching the art! :)

  6. This looks like an amazing place., Euan would love it! One of the museum's in Edinburgh has a touchy feely part for kids, it used to be a favourite place when I was little, I must go back...