Imagine Museum After School

Written by Harriet Monzon-Aguirre | February, 2022

Madeline in awe of Dale Chiluly's 7 Part Seaform Set at the Imagine Museum

Did you know that The United Nations has dedicated 2022 as “The International Year of Glass.” Neither did I until my children and I explored Imagine Museum, a two-story building housing contemporary glass art by world renowned artists.

Imagine Museum (IM) is one of the many museums providing free family admission in partnership with the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative. I checked out a museum pass from our local library and chose to visit the Imagine Museum after school on a Wednesday.

My children were immediately dazzled by the glass ornaments displayed in the museum store, and I indulged them with WKG mystery boxes. They opened their boxes to reveal hand blown glass miniature animals. Madeline (almost 5 year old) got a mouse and William (6 ½ year old) got a robin. Thomas the toddler, strapped to me with a baby carrier, was treated with a marble instead. I am glad they had something to hold during the museum visit to deter them from touching the exhibits.

Imagine Museum is extremely well-curated. The first floor has 9 galleries in total and our leader Madeline briskly walked us through the first two rooms to Gallery 3, the American Masters exhibit, where she stood in awe of one of the '7 Part Seaform Set' by Dale Chihuly.

I too paused at Chihuly. I remembered when I first came to America to study at the Armand Hammer United World College of the American West in Montezuma, New Mexico and I was enthralled by an elaborate chandelier that adorned the dining hall of Montezuma Castle. This was the first time I ever saw glass transformed into a gravity defying and intricately woven sculpture. After seeing Chihuly I appreciated glass as a medium a lot more. Imagine Museum takes this appreciation and magnifies it exponentially. With 400 of the 1500 piece collection on display, you are left speechless about the ideas, imagination, trends, and techniques of contemporary glass artists.

William showing me the water spirit in K William LeQuier's sculpture, 'Cabriole'

William's captivated by 'Portal Icosahedron' by Anthony James

Part of the collection that caught the attention of my eldest child was by K William LeQuier. For my son William, the objects represented water, earth, air, and fire spirits as he gestured to them like a conductor of an orchestra. But by far, William’s favorite sculpture was Portal Icosahedron by Anthony James. William stood captivated in front of the repetitive reflections and endless mazes, then turned to me and said it reminded him of DNA. It was my turn to be intrigued.

We moved from gallery to gallery, from the first floor to the second, our eyes absorbing all the exhibits had to offer. We viewed works by artists Ingrid Račková and David Suchopárek (IRDS) as well as 'Nirvana' by the IM founder, Trish Duggan. We viewed glass aliens, glass monkeys, glass horses, glass bears; glass portraits, flowers, and eggs. We enjoyed a river of glass with Martin Blank’s installation ‘If a River Could Tell a Story’, and were mesmerized by the flowing beauty of ‘Reclining Nocturne, a cast glass dress, by Karen LaMonte.

Madeline and William looking at 'Flying in Blue' by by Ingrid Račková & David Suchopárek (IRDS)

William and Madeline sitting to admire 'Nirvana' by IM founder Trish Duggan.

W&M viewing work by John Kiley

William reading label to Madeline of work by Aya Oki

William admiring light in work. Artist To be Determined

Intrigued by the contemporary glass art at Imagine Museum

At Imagine Museum we watched light refract and reflect through glass of all shapes and sizes. I found out from our visit that Americans pioneered glass art as a fine art form in the 60s, pushing the limits of glass as a medium and inspiring other artists around the world. There is no other museum dedicated to contemporary glass art like Imagine Museum, and with so much to marvel at, we really have to come back again.