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Museum month spotlights the best of local culture and entertainment

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Chihuly Garden and Glass
Chihuly Garden and Glass

As February rolls around, some of Seattle's best cultural institutions are preparing to celebrate Museum Month. From February 1 to the 29th, several of them, including the Seattle Art Museum, Woodland Park Zoo, and the Seattle Aquarium, are offering 50% discounts on admission to anyone who stays in a participating downtown hotel.

"Museum Month is just a great [opportunity] for Seattle to showcase its cultural attractions in what is sort of a slower time of year for tourism, in general," said Randy Cote, chief marketing officer for Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, which has participated since the first year, when Museum Month was only a weeklong special.

"When folks think of visiting Seattle, or spending time out and about in Seattle," Cote continued, "they usually think of sunshine and hitting the lake and all those sorts of things. But we have so much to offer year-round, including things indoors, like our museums and cultural attractions."

"One of the cool things about Museum Month is that, for me, it's not an 'either-or' opportunity, it's a 'yes, and' opportunity," he added. "...If you stay in a downtown hotel, whether you're a staycationer or visitor, you get 50% off of these ...attractions and museums. Most people [visit several] of them. We think we're a great complement to the other cultural attractions and museums."

Chihuly Garden and Glass  

A glass-blowing epicenter
Art connoisseurs can take advantage of the discount by visiting the Seattle Art Museum and the Museum of Glass, then finishing off with a trip to Chihuly to pay homage to the man who cemented Seattle as a glass-blower paradise.

"There's more working glass artists and glass studios in Seattle than anywhere else in the country, and Dale Chihuly is a part of why that is," Cote explained. "He was such a groundbreaking figure in the studio glass world that ...the Pilchuck Glass School, his studio in Seattle, became this destination for glass artists around the country, and that legacy lives on today, and you see it across the different galleries and artist studios ...across Seattle."

While many visitors to Chihuly come to celebrate the fact that Seattle has become the North American epicenter for glass-blowing, just as many newcomers enter the doors every day. Since opening in 2012, Chihuly Glass and Gardens has welcomed over one million guests, many of whom come to enjoy the beautiful artwork and photo opportunities.

"It's so immersive. We encourage people to take pictures — you can use your flash. It's not what people are used to in an art setting," Cote said.

The biggest attractions at Chihuly this month are the "Winter Brilliance" lights and display exhibit and the new bar, which celebrated its first anniversary on February 7. The exhibit is a beautiful collection of ice-like glass crystals set up to appear like a winter wonderland. This special show is only open between December 1 and February 29.

Visitors can also enjoy daily demonstrations in Chihuly's community hot shop, where every day, local artists demonstrate how to create glasswork in real time. Cote suggests viewing the demonstrations on a chilly day, as the steam that comes off the glass in the winter adds to the mystery of the craft. All the artwork created in the hot shop is available at the Space Needle gift shop next door, with proceeds going toward local art scholarships.

Best time of year to save
While museums, like Chihuly Garden and Glass, are great fun in the summer, visiting in February provides locals with a 50% discount and the chance to avoid longer lines and bigger crowds.

"On face value, Seattle Museum Month is about traveling to Seattle and staying in a hotel to get half-off to all these museums and cultural attractions, but it is [also] the best time of year to get a deal at a downtown hotel if you're a local," Cote said.

"If anyone is considering having that little staycation moment, they can get a really good deal on a hotel downtown during February. Wake up and stroll through the market and make a whole day of it! Go see a few museums. There's bigger institutions like Chihuly Garden and Glass and SAM, but go to the website and check out these smaller spots. There's also a lot of free museums and galleries that participate, so you can go from 50%-off tickets to ... some cool [free] places."

Seattle has so much to offer, and Museum Month provides the perfect excuse to go downtown and explore the hidden gems in our backyard.