Botanical Garden gets Chihuly glass art exhibition

The man credited with awakening the nation to the art of blown glass will design an exhibition exclusively for the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Dale Chihuly will create pieces to coexist with the lush environment for "Glass in the Garden," which will run from April 30 to October 31 next year. Dozens of sculptures will be on display in the outdoor gardens and inside the Climatron, the garden's temperature-controlled habitat for rainforest plants and animals.

Chihuly is known for glass sculptures inspired by nature that capture and transform light. Peter Raven, director of the Missouri Botanical Garden, said he heard that Chihuly had visited the garden twice to get a sense for the surroundings.

The artist's glass creations "are not as fragile as you might think," Raven said. Weather poses little threat; the only major concern would be a "catastrophically hard hail storm," Raven said. Each piece will be insured and security guards will be hired to protect them.

An exhibition of Chihuly garden glass is currently on display at the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens southwest of London.

Kim Tucci, chairman of the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, said the London exhibit has broken visitor records for the royal gardens.

"This is another piece of ammunition in our arsenal to sell St. Louis for 2006," Tucci said.

The botanical garden announced the exhibition at a news conference Wednesday. Speakers stood in front of two Chihuly sculptures of giant orange bulbs shaped like tulips. Each is worth $56,000, said R. Duane Reed of R. Duane Reed Gallery, which provided the pieces for the news conference. Reed said the garden will look for donors who can buy one of the exhibition's sculptures and make it a permanent garden fixture after the display closes.

600450 Botanical Garden gets Chihuly glass art exhibition

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