1941 Born September 20 in Tacoma, Washington, to George Chihuly and Viola Magnuson Chihuly.
1957 Older brother and only sibling, George, is killed in a Navy Air Force training accident in Pensacola, Florida.
1958 His father suffers a fatal heart attack at age 51. His mother goes to work to support herself and Dale.
1959 Graduates from high school in Tacoma. Enrolls in the College of Puget Sound (now the University of Puget Sound) in his hometown. Transfers to the University of Washington in Seattle to study interior design and architecture.
1961 Joins Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity and becomes rush chairman. Learns to melt and fuse glass.
1962 Disillusioned with his studies, he leaves school and travels to Florence to study art. Discouraged by not being able to speak Italian, he leaves and travels to the Middle East.
1963 Works on a kibbutz in the Negev Desert. Returns to the University of Washington in the College of Arts and Sciences and studies under Hope Foote and Warren Hill. In a weaving class with Doris Brockway, he incorporates glass shards into woven tapestries.
1964 Returns to Europe, visits Leningrad, and makes the first of many trips to Ireland.
1965 Receives B.A. in Interior Design from the University of Washington. Experimenting on his own in his basement studio, Chihuly blows his first glass bubble by melting stained glass and using a metal pipe.
1966 Works as a commercial fisherman in Alaska to earn money for graduate school. Enters the University of Wisconsin at Madison where he studies glassblowing under Harvey Littleton.
1967 Receives M.S. in Sculpture from the University of Wisconsin. Enrolls at the Rhode Island School of
Design (RISD) in Providence, where he begins his exploration of environmental works using neon, argon, and blown glass. Awarded a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant for work in glass. Italo Scanga, then on the faculty at Pennsylvania State University’s Art Department, lectures at RISD, and the two begin a lifelong friendship.
1968 Receives M.F.A. in Ceramics from RISD. Awarded a Fulbright Fellowship, which enables him to travel and work in Europe. Becomes the first American glassblower to work in the Venini Fabbrica on the island of Murano. Returns to the United States and spends four consecutive summers teaching at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine.
1969 Travels again throughout Europe and meets glass masters Erwin Eisch in Germany and Jaroslava Brychtová and Stanislav Libenský in Czechoslovakia. Returning to the United States, Chihuly establishes the glass program at RISD, where he teaches for the next fifteen years.
1970 Meets James Carpenter, a student in the RISD Illustration Department, and they begin a four-year collaboration.
1971 On the site of a tree farm donated by Seattle art patrons Anne Gould Hauberg and John Hauberg, the Pilchuck Glass School is founded. Chihuly’s first environmental installation at Pilchuck is created that summer. He resumes teaching at RISD and creates “20,000 Pounds of Ice and Neon,” “Glass Forest #1,” and “Glass Forest #2” with James Carpenter, installations that prefigure later environmental works by Chihuly.
1972 Continues to collaborate with Carpenter on large-scale architectural projects. They create “Rondel Door” and “Cast Glass Door” at Pilchuck. Back in Providence, they create “Dry Ice, Bent Glass and Neon,” a conceptual breakthrough.
1974 Supported by a National Endowment for the Arts grant at Pilchuck, James Carpenter, a group of students, and he develop a technique for picking up glass thread drawings. In December at RISD, he completes his last collaborative project with Carpenter, “Corning Wall.”
1975 At RISD, begins series of “Navajo Blanket Cylinders.” Kate Elliott and, later, Flora Mace fabricate the complex thread drawings. He receives the first of two National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist grants. Artist-in-residence with Seaver Leslie at Artpark, on the Niagara Gorge, in New York State. Begins “Irish Cylinders” and “Ulysses Cylinders” with Leslie and Mace.
1976 An automobile accident in England leaves him, after weeks in the hospital and 256 stitches in his face, without sight in his left eye and with permanent damage to his right ankle and foot. After recuperating he returns to Providence to serve as head of the Department of Sculpture and the Program in Glass at RISD. Henry Geldzahler, curator of contemporary art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, acquires three “Navajo Blanket Cylinders” for the museum’s collection. This is a turning point in Chihuly’s career, and a friendship between artist and curator commences.
1976 Inspired by Northwest Coast Indian baskets he sees at the Washington Historical Society in Tacoma, begins the “Basket” series at Pilchuck over the summer, with Benjamin Moore as his assistant gaffer. Continues his bicoastal teaching assignments, dividing his time between Rhode Island and the Pacific Northwest.
1978 Meets William Morris, a student at Pilchuck Glass School, and the two begin a close, eight-year working relationship. A solo show, “Baskets and Cylinders” curated by Michael W. Monroe at the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C., is another career milestone.
1979 Dislocates his shoulder in a bodysurfing accident and relinquishes the gaffer position for good. William Morris becomes his chief gaffer for the next several years. Chihuly begins to make drawings as a way to communicate his designs.
1980 Resigns his teaching position at RISD. He returns there periodically during the 1980s as artist-in-residence. Begins “Seaform” series at Pilchuck in the summer and later, back in Providence, returns to architectural installations with the creation of windows for the Shaare Emeth Synagogue in St. Louis, Missouri.
1981 Begins “Macchia” series.
1982 First major catalog is published: “Chihuly Glass,” designed by RISD colleague and friend Malcolm Grear.
1983 Returns to the Pacific Northwest after sixteen years on the East Coast. Works at Pilchuck in the fall and winter, further developing the “Macchia” series with William Morris as chief gaffer.
1984 Begins work on the “Soft Cylinder” series, with Flora Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick executing the glass drawings.
1985 Begins working hot glass on a larger scale and creates several site-specific installations.
1986 Begins “Persian” series with Martin Blank, a former RISD student and assistant, as gaffer. With the opening of “Objets de Verre” at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palais du Louvre, in Paris, he becomes one of only four American artists to have had a one-person exhibition at the Louvre.
1987 Establishes his first hot shop in the Van de Kamp building near Lake Union. Begins association with
artist Parks Anderson. Marries playwright Sylvia Peto.
1988 Inspired by a private collection of Italian Art Deco glass, Chihuly begins “Venetian”series. Working from Chihuly’s drawings, Lino Tagliapietra serves as gaffer.
1989 With Italian glass masters Lino Tagliapietra, Pino Signoretto, and a team of glassblowers at Pilchuck Glass School, begins “Putti Venetian” series. Working with Tagliapietra, Chihuly creates “Ikebana” series, inspired by his travels to Japan and exposure to ikebana masters.
1990 Purchases the historic Pocock Building located on Lake Union, realizing his dream of being on the water in Seattle. Renovates the building and names it The Boathouse, for use as a studio, hot shop, archives, and residence. Travels to Japan.
1991 Begins “Niijima Float” series with Rich Royal as gaffer, creating some of the largest pieces of glass ever blown by hand. Completes a number of architectural installations. He and Sylvia Peto divorce.
1992 Begins “Chandelier” series with a hanging sculpture at the Seattle Art Museum. Designs sets for Seattle Opera production of Debussy’s “Pelléas et Mélisande.
1993 Begins “Piccolo Venetians” series with Lino Tagliapietra. Creates “100,000 Pounds of Ice and Neon,” a temporary installation in the Tacoma Dome, Tacoma, Washington.
1994 Creates five installations for Tacoma’s Union Station Federal Courthouse. Hilltop Artists in Residence, a glassblowing program for at-risk youths in Tacoma, Washington, is created by friend Kathy Kaperick; Chihuly assists with instruction of youths and is a major contributor.
1995 “Chihuly Over Venice” begins with a glassblowing session in Nuutajärvi, Finland, and a subsequent blow at the Waterford Crystal factory, Ireland.
1996 “Chihuly Over Venice” continues with a blow in Monterrey, Mexico, and culminates with the installation of fourteen “Chandeliers” at various sites in Venice. Creates his first permanent outdoor installation,“Icicle Creek Chandelier.”
1997 Continues and expands series of experimental plastics he calls “Polyvitro.” “Chihuly” is designed by Massimo Vignelli and co-published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, and Portland Press, Seattle. A permanent installation of Chihuly’s work opens at the Hakone Glass Forest, Ukai Museum, in Hakone, Japan.
1998 Chihuly is invited to Sydney, Australia, with his team to participate in the Sydney Arts Festival. A son, Jackson Viola Chihuly, is born February 12 to Dale Chihuly and Leslie Jackson. Creates architectural installations for Benaroya Hall, Seattle; Bellagio, Las Vegas; and Atlantis, the Bahamas.
1999 Begins “Jerusalem Cylinder” series with gaffer James Mongrain, in concert with Flora Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick. Mounts his most ambitious exhibition to date: “Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem 2000,” at the Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem. Outside the Museum he creates a sixty-foot wall from twenty-four massive blocks of ice shipped from Alaska. 2000 Creates “La Tour de Lumière” sculpture as part of the exhibition “Contemporary American Sculpture” in Monte Carlo. Marlborough Gallery represents Chihuly. More than a million visitors enter the Tower of David Museum to see “Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem 2000,” breaking the world attendance record for a temporary exhibition during 1999–2000.
2001 “Chihuly at the V&A” opens at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Exhibits at Marlborough Gallery, New York and London. Groups a series of “Chandeliers” for the first time to create an installation for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Artist Italo Scanga dies, friend and mentor for over three decades. Presents his first major glasshouse exhibition, “Chihuly in the Park: A Garden of Glass,” at the Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago.
2002 Creates installations for the Olympic Arts Festival at the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games. The “Chihuly Bridge of Glass” is dedicated in Tacoma, Washington.
2003 Creates Dale Chihuly: Mille Fiori for Tacoma Art Museum in celebration of their new building.