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One Tank Trip: Chihuly's Venetians: The George R. Stroemple Collection

One Tank Trip: Chihuly's Venetians

READING, Pa. - A new exhibit, which opens Saturday at the Reading Public Museum, is creating its own light display.

"It's almost a thousand-year tradition, and so you feel that in each of these pieces, and so the legacy and history of glassblowing is sort of inspiring this contemporary artist," explained Scott Schweigert, the curator at the Reading Public Museum.

The art of master glass-maker Dale Chihuly is back at the Reading Public Museum in a soon-to-open exhibit titled "Chihuly's Venetians: The George R Stroemple Collection."

Dale Chihuly is from Tacoma, Washington. He's responsible for setting the studio glass movement on fire. There are now more glass blowers in Seattle than in Venice, but it's in Venice where the inspiration for the pieces in the museum's latest exhibit came.

Chihuly decided to create his own version of art deco glass pieces he saw in a gallery there in 1988. He worked in collaboration with Lino Tagliapietra, one of the leading glass blowers in the world.

"More than 60 pieces from that series, including the piccolo, or the small Venetians and the putti Venetians which have these playful little angels ornamented all around them," Schweigert said.

They are all part of Stroemple's private collection. Those not familiar with the pieces in the collection might know Chihuly for his larger installations, like the one at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

At the museum, you can view Laguna Murano.

"Laguna Murano chandelier is widely considered to be the most important Chihuly chandelier in existence," said John Graydon Smith, the museum's director and CEO.

It's a stunning five-piece chandelier with three sections that rise from the floor, and two drop down from the ceiling depicting the riches of the sea.

The inspiration came at a dinner party, when Chihuly stood up and happened to be at eye level with another, less elaborate chandelier.

"And he thought  'Hmm, wonder what I could do with the basic idea of a chandelier,' and since then, it has sort of taken off into a new level of chandelier-making," Schweigert said.

There's no ideal viewing spot. The hope is you move around to see all of the sculpted elements.

It's a new piece for the museum, but Chihuly's work has been here before. Fountain Spray was installed around the Drinking Girl fountain as part of a 2004 collection, and it's been at the museum ever since.

Some visitors then were so taken with Chihuly's work, they bought pieces from that exhibit, and they are now back on loan as part of this one.


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