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Chihuly at the NY Botanical Garden is a waking dream

Gallery: Master glass sculptor Dale Chihuly's ethereal sculptures return to the New York Botanical Garden.

There’s no better setting for Dale Chihuly’s larger-than-life glass sculptures than a garden, and after more than 10 years they’re back in New York City’s grandest showcase.

Opening on April 22, “Chihuly” brings 20 of his dreamy rainbow-hued sculptures to the fountains, rainforest gardens and terraces of the New York Botanical Garden’s famous Bronx grounds.

“The Chihuly show we did many years ago, in 2006 — that was a taste of the real thing,” says Gregory Long, CEO of the garden. “This is bigger and even better, and even more beautiful.”

Arranged all over the garden as well as a few indoor selections, the dramatic displays took two years of coordination between the NYBG and Chihuly Studio, which created several brand new glass works specifically for this exhibition.

Some pieces look like plants growing out of the existing garden, while others like the “Sol de Citron” in front of the main conservatory add new nature-inspired elements. Impressively, the pieces are all created using just glass, plastic and water and hand-blown inside a Seattle workshop.

Chihuly’s use of organic shapes links the art and natural worlds in an intriguing way, creating sculptures that seem both as if they could grow naturally or came from another world.

The effect lends the garden an almost “Alice in Wonderland” charm. And because they’ll be around through the end of October, visitors will be able to watch the seasons change around them.

“These glass works of art belong in the New York Botanical Garden in many ways,” says Long. “The beauty of nature here inspires artists of many kinds.”

How to get the most out of your visit

1. To guide visitors through the exhibit, the garden has released the Chihuly at NYBG app, which displays location-triggered information about each installation.

2. For further insight into Chihuly’s work, the NYBG has created a display of drawings and early sketches in its library, giving insight into his process and revealing how his signature style has evolved.

3. While seeing these works sparkling in the daytime is impressive enough, a night visit could offer an even more breathtaking experience. On select Chihuly Nights, see the installations lit up, with extended hours to enjoy special performances, themed cocktails and concerts.

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