Nicknamed “Bunny,” he sits proudly on the front desk of the Glass Light Hotel & Gallery in Norfolk, Virginia. His buddy, affectionately called “Pops,” reclines comfortably on a large pedestal overlooking the hotel bar.
The two 1,100-pound opalescent glass rabbits created by renowned Dutch artist Peter Bremers are often a pleasant surprise for visitors. After all, Norfolk is well known as a famed maritime port with the world’s largest naval base and the home of the USS Wisconsin battleship, now a museum.
But not as well known is that Norfolk has one of the largest glass art collections in the world.
“It is pretty special to be the home of the largest free collection of glass art, and we love getting to share that message with visitors and the local community,” says Sarah Hughes, vice president of marketing and communications for VisitNorfolk.
“Norfolk’s diverse community is the heart of the art scene,” Hughes adds. “Between the Chrysler Museum, the Perry Glass Studio, Barry Art Museum, and the Glass Light Hotel & Gallery, you can see how glass art continues to grow and how the community continues to foster creativity in glass.”
For a museum where the history dates to 1871, group tours head to the Chrysler Museum of Art, with nearly 100 galleries spotlighting 30,000 works of art from around the world. Back in 1871, Anna Wood and Irene Leache decided to build an art community in Norfolk. In 1917, the city donated land for the first art museum. And that love affair with art has grown over the years.
Opened in 2011 as an extension of the Chrysler Museum of Art, the Perry Glass Studio features free glassblowing demonstrations and hands-on classes. Glass artists walk visitors through the steps and provide necessary information to create the beautiful art pieces seen around Norfolk. At the Barry Art Museum, group tours are welcome to come inside and see what’s behind the facility’s serpentine glass wall.
For the perfect complement to any Norfolk glass art experience, group tours can stay at the Glass Light Hotel & Gallery, located in the beautifully restored Royster Building. Nestled downtown on Granby Street, the Glass Light boutique hotel offers 113 masterfully detailed guest rooms, plus a gallery inside the hotel that is free and open to the public, and features 65 rotating glass art pieces. Gallery staff share the history of the pieces on display as well as the story and the artists behind the unique art.
Article by Jackie Sheckler Finch
Main image: glassblowing demonstration; credit: visitnorfolk.com