Seattle Center's closing amusement park may be replaced by Chihuly glass exhibit

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

Seattle Center's dowdy amusement park – full of lackluster rides and slated to close later this year – might re-emerge as a shimmering, first-class exhibit of Dale Chihuly glass sculptures. Talks are ongoing between Chihuly's people, the Seattle Center and the Space Needle to convert the south end of the Fun Forest into a permanent exhibition space for the Northwest's iconic glass artist, complete with a store and cafe.

Read more from The Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

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Jeff's avatar

For reasons I don't entirely understand, this guy has pieces all over town. In the last week, I saw one at the hospital where we had our baby, and in a high-end shopping center where we had lunch. His work is largely the focus of the Glass Museum in Tacoma. Most people probably only know him for the display on the ceiling of the lobby at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. To me, most of it looks the same.

Note the comments on the news article. Some locals wonder why we don't have any "real" amusement rides here. I agree, but I'm not sure how into it people would be either.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

Kick The Sky's avatar

Sounds like a stupid replacement, but I was never the artsy fartsy type. Knowing how people in Seattle are (my uncle has lived there for forty years), it's probably a good thing, though.

On a side note, congrats to Jeff and his wife on the new baby!

Certain victory.

Personally, I love Dale Chihuly glass sculptures. We've seen Chihuly exhibits at art museums, gardens and conservatories all over the country, and wherever there has been a large exhibit it really draws a lot of people. Since Chihuly is from the Northwest, this seems appropriate. My only concern is that Chihuly glass seems to be popping up everywhere and it isn't as special as it used to be. I hate to lose an amusement park, but Fun Forest wasn't anything special. I think this will do better than Fun Forest did.

Last edited by Jeffrey Seifert,
Jeff's avatar

Yeah, that's what I was kinda implying. I think it's somewhat interesting, I suppose, but I've seen so much of it now that I can't say that it's all that cool. I mean, the stuff in the Bellagio is basically the same thing in the bridge to the museum in Tacoma.

The lack of a decent amusement park out here has me stumped. The amount of rain here in the summer, especially in July and August makes it a better place to set up a park than most places in the Midwest. Locals say people are "too active" for amusement parks, which I don't understand since parks are obviously outside and require lots of walking.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

I saw a Chihuly exhibit at the Dayton Art Institute years ago. Somewhat interesting yeah, but it all starts to look alike after a while. Skimmed through it, no interest in going to one of those exhibits again.

ridemcoaster's avatar

By too active Jeff, do they mean walking from one Starbucks® to the next?

Now that I've reread this thread, I see you mention the glass museum in Tacoma. If there is already a Chihuly display there, maybe another one so close isn't such a good idea.

eightdotthree's avatar

I think the exhibit fits in better in that location. That amusement park would require a significant investment and potentially more land to be brought up to modern standards. Even if that happened would locals go to a touristy place like Seattle Center for a few new rides?

Last edited by eightdotthree,
rollergator's avatar

My first Chihuly exhibit was about a dozen years ago at the Mint Museum in Charlotte. Having seen the Bellagio, and the exhibit as Atlantis - I completely love "his" work (i.e., the work that comes out of his shop).

His location definitely plays a large part in this, and reminded me somewhat of our discussions regardning Peanuts and Mall of America. That being said, there is an abundance of Chihuly work out there, and it has become less "special" over the years...

As far as parks are concerned, there's always Enchanted Village (under Parc-7F), Enchanted Forest (great for little kids), and of course, The Fair...Puyallup. Silverwood and PNE are both long, long drives...

Okay, the park is going to be ripped out and replaced by three coffee shops covered by Chihuly artwork.

It's gonna blend in too much with the building for the Expierence Music Project.

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Jeff's avatar

The area they're talking about is really two distinct areas. The "big" rides were on one side of the monorail next to the EMP/SFM building. There are still a bunch of smaller rides on the other side of the monorail, closer to the Space Needle.

The whole area is very clearly, to me anyway, an area they've tried to figure out what to do with since the World's Fair. I agree with comments on the PI site that there isn't much replay value for locals. Not having a basketball team now means that Key Arena gets used less, and there's yet one less reason to go there. EMP just doesn't have enough, and it's definitely no Rock Hall (yes, Cleveland does win at some things). Space Needle is too expensive to go at all in the winter, and probably just a once thing in the summer to say you did it.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

eightdotthree's avatar

I don't know their plans but I would assume the museum would have a room set aside for traveling exhibits which could bring in more locals.

Until I read some of these comments, I thought Columbus Oh must surely be the Chihuly capital of the world - seems you can't swing a cat without hitting one. Right now our art museum has permanent pieces as well as a big traveling exhibit, our conservatory has the same, (they are spectacular outdoors at night all lit up), not to mention the various gallerys, restaurants, bars, you name it - everyone seems to have one and want in on it.

I wish i could afford a piece myself. The interesting thing is that the glass in the sculptures or "chandeliers" is interchangeable and the way you see it in one place is not the way it will be set up at the next .

Jeff's avatar

If you Google News Chihuly, you can probably find some news video of him explaining his vision for the project. I think it's a neat idea, but again, it seems like a once-every-few-years thing for locals, and for that part of town to really make a statement, it should appeal to locals and tourists.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

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