World-renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly will bring his whimsical and colorful works to the Missouri Botanical Garden this spring for the garden’s “most ambitious” exhibit, officials said Wednesday.
Chihuly and her team have created 18 installations that will add more dramatic color to the garden’s 79 acres. The exhibit will be larger than Chihuly’s previous single exhibit at the garden, in 2006, primarily located inside the Climatron.
“It’s hard to put the wow factor into words,” said garden president Peter Wyse Jackson. “But I will reassure people that they won’t be disappointed to come to the garden and see so many pieces on display, the kind of pieces they’ve never seen before.”
The exhibit, “Chihuly in the Garden 2023,” opens May 2 and ends October 15.
Tickets for Chihuly Nights go on sale March 1 for Garden members and March 15 for the general public. Daytime access will be included with entry to the garden.
Craftsmen and planners from Chihuly Studio visited the garden three times to make and finalize plans, and only a small group of garden employees knew about the exhibit until very recently. Chihuly himself wants to visit, garden officials said, but no date has been set. The garden is at 4344 Shaw Boulevard.
Glass installations will be spread throughout the garden, including inside the Linnean House, Japanese Garden, Conservatory and Climatron, where the massive 928-piece blue chandelier from the 2006 exhibition hangs atop of the dome. An exhibition of Chihuly’s drawings will go to the Stephen and Peter Sachs Museum in the garden.
In 2006, Chihuly’s “Glass in the Garden” exhibition made a strong impression and changed the programming of future garden events. Gift shop, rental, box office and restaurant revenue soared 30%. The garden extended the exhibition for two months until the end of that year, even heating up a reflecting pool so that more people could see the floating glass “Walla Wallas” in freezing weather.
The exhibition attracted thousands of new members and broke attendance records, breaking the one million visitor mark that year. The garden has since hit the one million mark, but the pandemic has pushed those numbers down.
Garden officials hope Chihuly will once again be the catalyst for attracting new visitors and those who haven’t wandered the garden paths in a while.
“Chihuly Nights” in 2006 spawned future audience favorites, such as the Garden Glow and Chinese Lanterns exhibits. The staff learned to deal with nighttime crowds and the crowds learned that they liked the bright atmosphere of the garden.
In 2006, visitors came from all 50 states to see “Glass in the Garden.” Security guards counted license plates in the parking lot. Garden officials hope the new exhibit will once again attract tourists, who will not only spend money at the garden but elsewhere in St. Louis.
The garden’s Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center opened in August, and the adjacent Bayer Event Center is scheduled to open in May. More than 30,000 plants, flowers and trees will be planted in new beds over the next few months.
“It really caps off what will be a wonderful year to develop a new era of the garden and build on what we have achieved here,” said Wyse Jackson.
It’s also a celebration of what he hopes will be the end of the pandemic. “It’s a way to give back to the community, to say we’re here, to come back and enjoy the garden.”
The garden did not host a summer exhibition in 2022 due to the works. Garden officials have stayed in touch with Chihuly Studio over the years, and in 2019 came up with a final plan for this exhibit.
Garden officials won’t say how much it will cost — “a lot,” said public relations consultant Peggy Lents — and money is being set aside in the budget, along with help from sponsors. Lelia and David Farr are the presenting sponsor, and other main sponsors include Edward Jones and Schnuck Markets Inc. with Scott Schnuck.
From the 2006 exhibition, donors purchased several works by Chihuly for the garden’s permanent collection: among them, the floating onions, the blue chandelier which was moved to the Climatron in 2021 due to the new visitor center, and the yellow squiggles that top the rose lattices. garden.
Although there is no budget or plan to purchase new pieces, officials are open to any generous donor who wishes to purchase one – or more – for the garden.
If the 2006 exhibition changed the landscape of the garden, it also opened a new path for Chihuly. It was one of his first exhibitions in a botanical garden; he has held exhibitions in a dozen gardens since.
“The Missouri Botanical Garden is a special place for Chihuly Studios,” said Catherine Martin, spokeswoman for the garden. “It was such a hit that it really gave them a roadmap for the shows they did going forward.”
Wyse Jackson was working in Dublin in 2006 so he didn’t see the exhibit here, but has seen Chihuly exhibits in other gardens and knows they are some of the most popular. “It certainly brought in new audiences for many botanic gardens,” he said.
In 2006, Chihuly told the Post-Dispatch that he was particularly excited about placing his work in the Climatron, another glass structure.
“The Missouri Botanical Garden is one of the greatest historic gardens in the world,” he said, “and it’s an honor to do a project there.”
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. The Artist Verrier Chihuly Will Present The Ambitious Exhibition Missouri Botanical Garden