Washingtonians love to live and play outdoors, so it’s no surprise that our cities are peppered with dazzling sculptures and alfresco art. We compiled a list of cities where you can spy Washington’s best public artwork, from glass masterpieces to modern sculptures.
World-renowned glass sculptor Dale Chihuly—whose pieces have been featured in 200-plus museum collections around the globe—has threaded countless masterpieces into the rugged beauty of the Pacific Northwest. In his hometown of Tacoma, find 2,364 vibrant glass forms suspended overhead, two 40-foot-tall block towers glimmering in blue, and a display case filled with 109 whimsical sculptures on the Chihuly Bridge of Glass, a 500-foot-long pedestrian overpass leading to the Museum of Glass. Find more museums in Tacoma.
Chihuly’s work is also juxtaposed with nature under the towering Space Needle in Seattle at Chihuly Garden and Glass. Wend down paths lined with camellias and daylilies to happen upon works like Reeds on Logs, cobalt-blue glass rods that rise like giant candles out of the ground.
In Capitol Hill’s Volunteer Park, Isamu Noguchi’s circular Black Sun frames views of the distant Space Needle and Olympic Mountains. Other works become an interactive cornerstone of neighborhood culture (Fremont residents often dress up the cast aluminum figures of Richard Beyer’s Waiting for the Interurban), while downtown’s water-front Olympic Sculpture Park features 21 permanent outdoor pieces, ranging from Alexander Calder’s abstract Eagle to Louise Bourgeois’s fountain-engulfed Father and Son.
Find more art centers and galleries in Seattle.
About 42 pieces are on display in downtown Bellevue—including a life-size bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi outside the public library—plus additional temporary works during the biennial sculpture exhibition Bellwether.
State capital Olympia boasts some 27 pieces of alfresco art with waterfront park Percival Landing serving as a major hub. Within less than a mile, find 17 sculptures made from cast bronze to mosaic tiles to found objects on this promenade that might as well be considered a museum without walls.
In Snohomish County, around 40 murals and sculptures by regional artists are sprinkled throughout downtown Edmonds and along the Puget Sound coastline. Visitors can also admire James Madison’s 15-foot-tall Tulalip People aluminum sculpture, which pays homage to the region’s native culture with its fish-ladder effect, in Stanwood.
Tip: Pick up an art map at each city’s visitor information centers.
Photo credit: Bridge of Glass, Travel Tacoma