All museums have a story to tell. Some zero in on the complex lives and work of talented individuals who, through their extraordinary visions, changed the landscape of art forever. Thought-provoking art can elicit powerful sentiments uniquely positioned to move people — inspiring the ambitious, inciting new questions and stimulating curiosity, excitement or even outrage.

Most art allows for diverse interpretation, but there are scholars and docents who can help groups uncover the creative thinking and expression behind famous works. Schedule an artistic group tour to not only entertain, but also to empower and cultivate an appreciation for aesthetics and ultimate artisanship.

Dale Chihuly: Glassblowing in Seattle, Washington

Chihuly glass museum art museums
Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle, Wash.
Credit: Chihuly Garden and Glass

Over the course of five decades, Dale Chihuly has explored new and old techniques, pushing the boundaries of contemporary art. His work at Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle was inspired from the world around him, catapulting the imagination beyond conventional ideas.

“Dale Chihuly’s work can be described as bold, unexpected and always colorful,” said Kathy Gerke, director of sales at Chihuly Garden and Glass. “The impressive scale of his work, the way he uses color and light, how his work interacts with the outdoor garden — all of that together allows people to see art in a way they’ve never experienced.”

Chihuly was a leader in the United States studio glass movement, taking glass from traditional factory production to a fine art. He created a new way of working with glass, using gravity and centrifugal force to let the glass take shape in its own organic way. 

Located at Seattle Center below the Space Needle, “Chihuly Garden and Glass is a great destination for groups, whether they want to explore the exhibition on their own or reserve an exclusive, interactive experience,” Gerke said. “Guests can enjoy a private tour, led by an Exhibition Host, and explore the exhibition like never before.”

Not only will guests walk away with unforgettable memories, but they’ll also receive keepsakes from the experience, including digital photos and a Chihuly Garden and Glass book. Private hosted tours are available for groups of any size; one host is required per 30 guests. The tour lasts one hour and includes the Galleries, Glasshouse and Garden. Combination packages with the Space Needle Observation Deck also are available.

The Community Hot Shop returned to Chihuly Garden and Glass this fall. Operated out of a retrofitted 1967 Airstream, the Community Hot Shop offers groups the opportunity to watch live glassblowing demonstrations led by local artists.

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Salvador Dalí: Surrealism in St. Petersburg, Florida

Dali Museum art artist
Gallery, The Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Credit: The Dalí Museum

Salvador Dalí’s mind-bending works belong in a building that shares their same imaginative soul; The Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg sure does them justice.

“The Dalí Museum is unlike anything you have experienced in your life — a mecca for inspiration and creativity,” said Beth Bell, marketing director of The Dalí Museum. “Before even entering the museum, groups marvel over the dream-like building that was custom-designed and built to house the Salvador Dalí collection donated by A. Reynolds and Eleanor Morse.”

What is most notable out of the simple structure is the large free-form geodesic bubble that erupts from the rectangle-shaped building. “The Enigma” is made up of 1,062 triangular shaped pieces of glass, stands 75 feet tall and is a 21st-century homage to the dome that adorns Dalí’s museum in Spain.

“Inside, the museum houses another unique architectural feature, a helical staircase, recalling Dalí’s obsession with spirals and the double helical shape of the DNA molecule,” Bell said. “The museum has been named one of Architectural Digest’s ‘10 Most Beautiful Museums in the World’ and is the only three-star, Michelin-rated museum in the Southeast.”

The structure houses more than 2,000 pieces, with 96 oil paintings including eight masterworks, as well as dozens of drawings, sculptures and films. In addition to the permanent collection, The Dalí Museum has special exhibitions from worldwide collections.

After enjoying a day filled with world-class art, visitors can go downstairs to Café Gala for Spanish-themed light fare and drinks, or explore the outdoor Avant-garden on the beautiful Tampa Bay waterfront.

“If a visit to the Dalí has guests feeling aspirational, it is said to be good luck to tie the admission wristband from the museum to the Wish Tree and whisper a wish,” Bell said. The Wish Tree is a focal point of the Avant-garden.

The Dalí Museum

Clyfford Still: Abstract expressionism in Denver, Colorado

Clyfford Still Museum art museums
Clyfford Still Museum, Denver, Colo.
Credit: James Florio

Dramatic and emotive, Clyfford Still’s revolutionary art and mysterious life draws visitors to Clyfford Still Museum in Denver.

“Given the scale of Still’s work and the intimacy of the individual galleries, museum visitors become immersed in his works, almost becoming part of the paintings themselves,” said Sanya Andersen-Vie, director of marketing and communications at Clyfford Still Museum. “Abstract expressionism is marked by abstract forms, expressive brushwork and monumental scale, all of which were used to convey universal themes about creation, life, struggle and death. Described by many as the most anti-traditional of the abstract expressionists, Still is credited with laying the groundwork for the movement.”

Clyfford Still was among the first generation of abstract expressionists who developed a new, powerful approach to painting in the years immediately following World War II. Unlike other artists, Still tended to resist fame and remained fiercely independent. In 1951, he ended his relationship with commercial galleries and after that time, only a few of his works entered the market.

“Because he ended his relationship with commercial galleries, the Clyfford Still Museum houses 95 percent of his total output, making its collection the most intact body of work by any major artist from any century,” Andersen-Vie said. “Groups have the opportunity to deeply immerse themselves into a single creative genius’ career. The evenly dispersed natural light that fills the museum’s exhibition rooms not only presents Still’s canvas surfaces in the most compelling and truthful way; the gentleness of the daylight also enlivens the senses as visitors move through the variously proportioned spaces.”

The intimate gallery spaces encourage individuals to absorb Still’s artwork. Private tours led by gallery teachers, as well as public tours, are available. Visitors also may deepen their appreciation for Still’s art at The Making Space, a hands-on creation studio that encourages experimentation with a variety of art materials. •

Clyfford Still Museum

Artistic roots in Berea, Kentucky

Student potter, Berea College, Berea, Ky.
Credit: Berea College

Every working artist started somewhere — and many start in Berea, Kentucky. Located just south of Lexington, Berea is home to a thriving population of weavers, instrument makers, furniture artisans, jewelry designers, glass workers, potters, painters and sculptors.

The city’s story is interwoven with the historic Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South. Groups can become familiar with locals through interactive classes with master artists and specialized itineraries. Contact Berea Tourism to start planning a journey for artistic visionaries.

Berea Tourism