Tacoma has been chosen to host glass artists, collectors, and enthusiasts from around the world for the Glass Art Society (GAS) international conference in May 2021.
“This is so much more than simply winning a bid to host an event. With a topic like glass and a city like Tacoma that understands the medium’s collaborative spirit, it’s that feeling of rightness you get when you walk into a place for the first time, but it feels like coming home,” said Dean Burke, president and CEO of Travel Tacoma – Mt. Rainier Tourism and Sports. “It’s a feeling I think we’re going to hear a lot about when we welcome the biggest names in the industry to our city.”
Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the GAS conference. The multi-day event will include panels, demonstrations, performances and films, as well as lectures and exhibitions from some of the top artists in the world.
The effort to attract a conference that aligns with Tacoma’s rich and diverse arts culture began in February 2019 with a collaboration between the Museum of Glass, Tacoma Art Museum and Travel Tacoma – Mt. Rainier Tourism and Sports.
“With these larger international conventions, we’re often talking about years of work between the lightbulb going off in someone’s head that this would be a good fit, and the attendees actually arriving here from around the world,” Burke said. “In this case, with both a conference and a destination that are true to the cultural roots of glass art, we knew we had to make it happen no matter how long it took.”
As the hometown of the most renowned glass artist in the world, Dale Chihuly, Tacoma has a long pedigree in the studio glass movement. Two museums with world-class glass-art collections — Museum of Glass and Tacoma Art Museum — are within walking distance of one another across the Chihuly Bridge of Glass, and public glass art installations dot the city.
“It’s really special for Museum of Glass, the downtown museum district, and the city to host the conference in 2021,” said Debbie Lenk, Executive Director, Museum of Glass. “Art is at the soul of Tacoma, our artists, makers, studios, and museums have helped shape the city into what it is today.”