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Chihuly's Magic

Looking up at one of Dale Chihuly's stunning Persian Ceilings, I am awash in color. Amazed. Enveloped. Captivated. I'd seen photos of Chihuly's glass sculptures, but no picture can capture the feeling of wonder you get seeing them in person.

The Oklahoma City Museum of Art features one of the largest collections of Chihuly glass in the world. A temporary exhibit of Chihuly's works in 2002 was so popular that the museum bought the exhibition. Redesigned in the decade since, Illuminations: Rediscovering the Art of Dale Chihuly now showcases more than 60 of Chihuly's works.

It's worth going to the museum just to see Chihuly's 55-foot-tall Eleanor Blake Kirkpatrick Memorial Tower in the atrium, but that's only scratching the surface.

At the main exhibit on the third floor, Chihuly's glass is stunningly lit in a series of rooms. Each piece, large or small, is enchanting in its own way.

Chihuly, born in 1941 in Tacoma, Washington, has spent more than four decades creating glass sculptures and installations that, according to the museum, “challenge the technical limits of the medium.” His background includes an master's degree in sculpture from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a Fulbright Fellowship to Venice, where he studied at the Venini glass factory on Murano.

Chihuly co-founded the Pilchuck Glass School in Washington as an international center for glass art education. His work is displayed at more than 200 museums around the world.

At the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Float Boat and Ikebana Boat—huge glass boats full of giant balls of color—are showstoppers. The colors swirl and sparkle, looking different from every angle as I walk around the creations. It's hard, really, to tear myself away; each view dazzles.

I peer at Chihuly's purple glass Reeds both from the front and through a square hole in the wall to get two different perspectives.

I study small flower vases, twisting sinuously across a ledge.

But my favorite is the 40-foot-long Oklahoma Persian Glass Ceiling. Just when I think I can't be wowed again, I turn to walk down a hallway, and I'm below the fantastical shapes and colors of the glass ceiling. Tantalizingly close. Brilliantly hued. Magical.

I take lots of photos. But my best advice: Go see it. 

Oklahoma City Museum of Art