Purple reeds pop out of the forest floor. A 27-foot neon yellow tower is reflected in a mirror pool. A 5,768-pound chartreuse chandelier dangles from the canopy walk. This month renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly takes over the Atlanta Botanical Garden for the second time with 21 large-scale installations, including two custom-designed pieces. His landmark exhibition in 2004 drew a record-making 375,000 visitors. The colorful works—many of which resemble fantastical alien plants—are sprinkled throughout the recently expanded grounds, mixing and mingling with the flora from the Storza Woods to the Fuqua Orchid Center.
Chihuly’s return coincides with the garden’s 40th anniversary and caps off a decade of impressive growth, which was in part kick-started by that 2004 show: 15 art installations, many featuring nationally recognized artists like Henry Moore and Bruce Munro; a doubling of the garden’s size from 15 to 30 acres; a new 168-acre Gainesville location; and an educational partnership with Atlanta Public Schools. Additional ambitious plans will be completed this year, with the opening of a newly refurbished Children’s Garden and the Center for Southeastern Conservation, which will work to preserve rare native plants and frogs.
“ was our coming-out party,” says Mary Pat Matheson, CEO and president of the garden. “Since then [Chihuly’s] work has grown exponentially, and we’re no longer the same garden. We kind of grew up at the same time.”
Installations in this year’s exhibition
Botanical Garden visitors during Chihuly’s 2004 exhibition
Acres the garden has added since 2004
Chihuly in the Garden runs from April 30 through October 30.
This article originally appeared in our April 2016 issue.