Palmer Museum of Art will unveil installation by Dale Chihuly in new building

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Palmer Museum of Art will unveil installation by Dale Chihuly in new building
Dale Chihuly, Lupine Blue Persian Wall (detail), 2023, 14 x 35½ x 2 feet © 2023 Chihuly Studio. All rights reserved. Photo by Nathaniel Willson. All rights reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA.- The new building for the Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State, which is currently under construction, will feature a site-specific art installation by internationally acclaimed artist Dale Chihuly. Commissioned in honor of Penn State President Emeritus Eric Barron and his wife Molly Barron, and funded through the generosity of donors, Lupine Blue Persian Wall will anchor the feature staircase in the museum’s new 71,254-square-foot facility, slated to open to the public in spring 2024. The large-scale installation spans over 13 feet tall and 35 feet wide and comprises 22 glass forms in Penn State’s classic blue and white, accented with golden yellows and vibrant reds. This stunning work will be a notable addition to the Palmer Museum’s growing permanent collection.

“For decades, Dale Chihuly has defied the boundaries of traditional glass sculpture, creating astonishing works that dazzle the eye of the beholder while evoking a sense of joy and wonder,” said Palmer Museum of Art Director Erin M. Coe. “For the new Palmer building in the Arboretum, he has created a tour de force installation for the feature staircase that fulfills our goal for a significant and stunning work celebrating the intersection of art, architecture and nature. We hope this installation will inspire the imagination of all who see it.”

The new museum building’s location adjacent to the H. O. Smith Botanic Gardens in The Arboretum at Penn State served as inspiration for Chihuly. Lupine Blue Persian Wall features the artist’s wild, swirling Persian forms, with their undulating walls and colorful rims evoking flower petals in full bloom. The sweeping composition will seemingly float and flutter around the walls of the monumental staircase.

For more than 50 years, Chihuly’s practice has been an exploration of color, light, transparency, and form. He began experimenting with the Persian form in 1986 and has since presented the series in some of his most dramatic architectural installations.

“Having previously presented exhibitions at the Palmer, I am thrilled to create a new installation for the new museum building,” said Chihuly. “I hope that the students and visitors who pass through the space will find beauty in the work.”

Lupine Blue Persian Wall was commissioned in honor of Dr. Eric J. Barron, the 18th president of Penn State who retired in 2022, and his wife Molly. He was instrumental in the vision to make the new Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State a reality. The new museum building, designed by Allied Works Architecture, seamlessly integrates art, architecture and nature and sits within a landscape similar to those that inspired many of the American works in the Palmer’s renowned collection. The new facility will nearly double the space for the display, study and stewardship of art; improve accessibility; bring in inviting, natural light; and include the Palmer’s first educational and event spaces, a museum store and café, sculpture path and outdoor terraces. The innovative and versatile design features a series of interlocking pavilions clad in regional stone that evokes the geology of central Pennsylvania. In keeping with Penn State’s commitment to environmental sustainability, the new museum building will be a high-performance building with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

Funding for the commission was made possible through the generosity of Peter and Ann Tombros, Ed and Helen Hintz, Art and Paige Nagle, Rick and Susan Sokolov, Richard and Pamela Bard, Jim and Suzy Broadhurst, Roger and Grace Moyer, Lee and Bill Beard, Rich Bundy, Bryon and Cynthia Deysher, Rob and Marcy Fenza, Naren and Judy Gursahaney, Jim and Barbara Ingram, Greg and Marilena Lucier, Martha Jordan and David Lee, Bob and Sandy Poole and Ric and Sharon Struthers.

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