Opening soon: Media gets preview of Museum of Glass

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part story on the new Museum of Glass, opening to the public on July 6.

Eleven days before the public opening of the Museum of Glass: International Center for Contemporary Art in Tacoma, museum officials yesterday opened the doors for a media preview of the $63 million project.

A warm, sunny day this first week into summer greeted press from around the globe, local government officials and others interested in Tacoma’s 75,000-square-foot fine arts museum dedicated to presenting the medium of glass.


A landmark addition to the cultural landscape of the nation, the opening of the Museum of Glass is a major part of the ongoing revitalization of downtown Tacoma.

“It wasn’t always like this,” said Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma of the site of the Museum of Glass, at 1801 E. Dock Street. “When the city bought the Foss Waterway property back in 1991, we envisioned that what was then a polluted Superfund site would someday be a clean, livable thriving place.”

The Museum of Glass and other area developments – including the Thea’s Landing condos right next door – have surpassed the city’s expectations, Baarsma said, adding this is perhaps the greatest period in Tacoma’s history.

Officials hope the Museum of Glass, with its unusual architecture and world class art, will not only bring paying customers to the museum, but also contribute to the local economy in order to continue the city’s downtown renaissance.

Downtown Tacoma is on its way to transforming from an industrial area to a residential area, said Arthur Erickson, chief architect of the Museum of Glass.


In addition to the economic impact on the city, the Museum of Glass will make Tacoma a focal point of the art world.

The Museum of Glass is an example of the city’s dedication to arts and culture, Baarmsa explained.

The exhibition schedule of the Museum of Glass features works by internationally known artists, offering artists and audiences the chance to experiment with and experience a full range of media in the visual arts.

The museum’s education program includes expert commentary in the form of interpretive text panels, docent programs, guided tours and other programs.

Students will get a hands-on approach to art in the museum’s Education Studio and Gallery, where visual and performing artists will teach.

The Museum of Glass also offers outreach programs and active partnerships with schools.

“The Museum of Glass is committed to building connections between art and the individual, the family and the community by presenting groundbreaking exhibitions, programs and performances that inspire appreciation for the medium of glass and engage visitors in the creative process,” said Josi Callan, director of the Museum of Glass.



In tomorrow’s Index, a look at the Museum of Glass itself, which Baarsma described as an “engineering marvel.”

“The museum is a bit different, as you’re about to see,” Callan said.

Also in tomorrow’s paper, a look at some of the people behind the museum, as well as information on the public opening.