Dale Chihuly

Photo by Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

Less than two years after the idea was pitched to the public, a new Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition opens today (Monday 11am) at Seattle Center.

It’s located at the foot of the Space Needle, where the kiddy rides and arcade games of the old Fun Forest once drew crowds.

Now, people are standing on tiptoes to peer in through the fence around the outdoor displays, which beckon with flashes of color.  

Ambar Espinoza

In the mid-1990's, gang activity in Tacoma's Hilltop neighborhood was at an all time high. The area had become notorious for drug deals, assaults, and drive-by shootings. Gangs often recruited from schools - all the way down through the elementary grades.

It took a lot of effort by the police and community groups to turn the neighborhood around. One of the organizations that's made a difference is Hilltop Artists. It started out in those high-crime days by convincing kids who were attracted to "danger" to swap gang banging for another dangerous activity: glassblowing.

Robin Cedar / KPLU

What was once a Fun Forest will soon be “ Chihuly Garden and Glass.”

Artist Dale Chihuly officially broke ground today on a 1.5 acre exhibition space in the Seattle Center. The gallery will include a garden, bookstore and café. It’s set to open in the spring of 2012. Just in time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Seattle World’s Fair.

Studio 216 / Owen Richards Architects

[UPDATE/CORRECTION: Bumbershoot's Visual Arts Exhibits will move from the Northwest Rooms to Seattle Center Pavilion and the adjacent courtyard.]

The Space Needle’s owners get a Chihuly museum, a community radio station gets a new home and Bumbershoot’s visual art space gets, well, nobody seems to be sure.

Office of Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has given his approval for a Dale Chihuly glass-art exhibit to replace the Fun Forest at the Seattle Center, plus a new home for radio station KEXP and a children’s playground.  

Governor to announce $5 billion budget cut plan, war claims a soldier from Yelm, and Seattle Center's big announcement today.