Artist Dale Chihuly leaves his mark at Arboretum

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The Chihuly exhibit at the Dallas Arboretum opened May 5. (Courtesy of Gangway Advertising)

“A little bit overwhelming.”

Little more can be said to describe the impact and energy the Dale Chihuly exhibit has brought to the Dallas Arboretum over the past five months, according to Terry Lendecker-Nimmo.

Lendecker-Nimmo, vice president of advertising and promotion at the Dallas Arboretum said that while Dallas is “[Chihuly’s] 11th garden installation,” he is one of Dallas’ first ventures into working with artists “known worldwide.”

“We’re never done an exhibit of this magnitude,”she said.
The Dallas Arboretum is one of the most well-recognized botanical gardens in the region.

Chihuly first approached the arboretum 10 years ago about doing an exhibit, but the administration didn’t think the gardens were ready. It’s something Lendecker-Nimmo believes may have been an unrealized opportunity.

“Well shoot, I wish we would’ve been,” she said.

When Chihuly asked again seven years later, the arboretum immediately jumped on the chance to bring such an exhibit to the Dallas arena.

“It’s brought a whole new audience to the garden,” Lendecker-Nimmo said. “We still find people in Dallas who have never [visited]…now they come and they realize this really is a big deal.”

With more than 900,000 visitors thus far in 2012 alone, Lendecker-Nimmo said that membership has significantly increased. She said that such profit from this allows for future funding of exhibits that will put the money to its best and most beneficial use possible.

“We’re very good stewards of folk’s money. We want to make sure it’s really tried and true to bring it into the garden,” Lendecker-Nimmo said.

And the high visitor volume brings profits and credit that reaches far beyond the Arboretum alone.

“It’s really kudos to the city of Dallas,” Lendecker-Nimmo said. “To be thought of for an exhibit of this magnitude-that says a lot about everything we are doing right.”

Chris Cockrell, who works in ticket sales for the gardens, said that the growth in “the general crowd and demographic” has been “astounding.”

“The exhibit has impacted visitor traffic tremendously,” Cockrell said.

She said that she’s seen an increase in attendance by a variety of interest groups, especially young people.

SMU sophomore Brenna Mason attended the special nighttime exhibit, Chihuly Nights, with visiting relatives and left impressed.

“I had been to a Chihuly exhibit before but never of this size,” Mason said.

“Surprised by the amount of pieces in the exhibit,” the nighttime event allowed Mason to view the sculptures illuminated in light designs to highlight their angles and shapes.

“It greatly exceeded my expectations,” Mason said.

But Lendecker-Nimmo was quick to assert that the beauty and delicacy Mason and many other guests enjoy at the Chihuly exhibit does not come without its challenges.

“It takes a lot to sustain something like that,” Lendecker-Nimmo said.

She said that much credit is due to the Chihuly team itself, and explained that as seasoned professionals working with Chihuly’s installations, “they know what they’re doing.”

“They’ve brought us a lot. They’re a great group of folks.”

While the Chihuly exhibit will close at the end of the month, Lendecker-Nimmo said that the arboretum is already excited at future chances to again bring such a strong and influential experience to Dallas.

“Will we do another exhibit of that magnitude?” Lendecker-Nimmo said. “Definitely.” 

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