Despite a Year of Protests, Seattle Okays Dale Chihuly Museum Next to the Space Needle

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By Steve Delahoyde Comment

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Just over a year ago, it was announced that the city of Seattle was planning to spend several millions to update the area around its iconic Space Needle. A $15 million portion of that involved tearing down what’s currently there, a small children’s park named Fun Forest, and building a museum celebrating the work of world famous glass artist Dale Chihuly. As the plans moved forward into architectural renderings and budget and timing proposals, groups against the idea raised a number of complaints, largely focused on the Chihuly’s work, with one critic even going so far as to say, “Chihuly is to art what Starbucks is to coffee” (i.e. bland and unoriginal). However, despite the protesters, many of whom formed a collective named Friends of the Green at Seattle Center, who wanted a new park instead of a museum, it looks as though Seattle is going to have their Chihuly in the end. This week, the Seattle City Council gave the museum the go ahead, with plans to have it finished by around this time next year. Perhaps as a way of throwing those against the plan a bone, a park will also be built, and alternative radio station KEXP will also find a home there. Here’s a bit from the Council’s official statement:

“I applaud the Chihuly Exhibition for its public benefit obligations providing a new artfully designed children’s playground, giving away 10,000 free tickets annually, and leading a recurring Center Nights event providing low and no-cost admission to major Seattle Center institutions,” said Councilmember Nick Licata, chair of the Housing, Human Services, Health, and Culture Committee. “I also look forward to the valuable exposure Northwest visual and glass artists will receive from the many new visitors the Exhibition attracts to the Center’s new art gallery, to be located in a newly remodeled Center House.”

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