Born September 20 in Tacoma, Washington, to George Chihuly and Viola Magnuson Chihuly.
Older brother and only sibling, George, is killed in a Navy Air Force training accident in Pensacola, Florida.
His father suffers a fatal heart attack at age 51. His mother goes to work to support herself and Dale.
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.
Joins Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity and becomes rush chairman. Learns to melt and fuse glass.
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.
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.
Returns to Europe, visits Leningrad, and makes the first of many trips to Ireland.
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.
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.
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.
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 factory 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.
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.
Meets James Carpenter, a student in the RISD Illustration Department, and they begin a four-year collaboration.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Begins Macchia series.
First major catalog is published: Chihuly Glass, designed by RISD colleague and friend Malcolm Grear.
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.
Begins work on the Soft Cylinder series, with Flora Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick executing the glass drawings.
Begins working hot glass on a larger scale and creates several site-specific installations.
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.
Establishes his first hotshop in the Van de Kamp building near Lake Union. Begins association with artist Parks Anderson. Marries playwright Sylvia Peto.
Inspired by a private collection of Italian Art Deco glass, Chihuly begins Venetian series. Working from Chihuly’s drawings, Lino Tagliapietra serves as gaffer.
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.
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, hotshop, and archives. Travels to Japan.
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.
Begins Chandelier series with a hanging sculpture at the Seattle Art Museum. Designs sets for Seattle Opera production of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande.
Begins Piccolo Venetians series with Lino Tagliapietra. Creates 100,000 Pounds of Ice and Neon, a temporary installation in the Tacoma Dome, Tacoma, Washington.
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. Within two years the program partners with Tacoma Public Schools, and Chihuly remains a strong role model and advisor.
Chihuly Over Venice begins with a glassblowing session in Nuutajärvi, Finland, and a subsequent blow at the Waterford Crystal factory, Ireland.
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.
Continues and expands series of experimental plastics he calls Polyvitro. Chihuly is designed by Massimo Vignelli and copublished 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.
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.
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.
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.
The Victoria and Albert Museum, in London, curates the exhibition Chihuly at the V&A. 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.
Creates installations for the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games. The Chihuly Bridge of Glass, conceived by Chihuly and designed in collaboration with Arthur Andersson of Andersson•Wise Architects, is dedicated in Tacoma, Washington.
Begins the Fiori series for the opening exhibition at the Tacoma Art Museum's new building. TAM designs a permanent installation for their collection of his works. Chihuly at the Conservatory opens at the Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus, Ohio.
Creates new forms in his Fiori series for an exhibition at Marlborough Gallery, New York. The Orlando Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida, become the first museums to collaborate and present simultaneous major exhibitions of his work. Presents a glasshouse exhibition at Atlanta Botanical Garden. Another collaborative exhibition opens in Los Angeles at the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art, L.A. Louver gallery, and Frank Lloyd Gallery.
Mounts Gardens of Glass: Chihuly at Kew, a major garden exhibition, the first in Great Britain. Exhibits at Marlborough Monaco and Marlborough London.