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  • Karen Nerison

A NEW MUSEUM: Cafesjian Art Trust

Karen Nerison recently enjoyed a visit to the Cafesjian Art Trust, and wants to make sure other Mia guides know about this new museum in the Twin Cities that opened just a few months ago.

Inside the Exhibition: Painting and Glass Sculpture by Dale Chihuly • Credit: Karen Nerison

The Cafesjian Art Trust (CAT) Museum, which is located at 4600 Churchill Street in Shoreview, was established by businessman and philanthropist Gerard Cafesjian to share his collection of contemporary and modern art with the public. The brand-new building opened in mid-September, and includes a collection of more than 3,000 artworks with a focus on glass art, plus a library, research center and a mini outdoor sculpture garden. See the CAT Museum website:

Part of the Pergola Ceiling in the Cafesjian Art Trust Museum Credit: Audrey Kennedy/Axios

The current exhibition at the CAT Museum, A Lasting Friendship: Gerard Cafesjian and Dale Chihuly, runs through April 29th. This exhibition centers on the almost 30-year friendship between the two men, and features a large collection of Chihuly’s works that Cafesjian amassed throughout that time. Most of us are familiar with Seattle-based glass artist Dale Chihuly from his Sunburst work suspended in the lobby at Mia.

I visited the Cafesjian Art Trust in December with some friends to see this exhibition. We appreciated the diverse selection of Chihuly’s work: Cafesjian was a longtime collector, so we saw art from different Chihuly eras in a variety of media. A piece like Confetti Persian Set was beautifully familiar with its swirling glass forms. This work comprises a yellow shell-like bowl with a cluster of eight smaller glass pieces of different shapes and colors spilling out. These smaller pieces (perhaps the confetti) are not attached but are carefully placed within the sculpture. Then there were other works that were lovely surprises like his paintings – yes, Chihuly also does paintings and drawings.

Anyone who has been to a Chihuly exhibition, like the one at Mia back in 1997, has probably experienced walking under a ceiling covered in Chihuly’s beautiful glass. It makes a room seem full of rainbows. The CAT has one of these “rainbow” rooms, a permanent installation called Pergola Ceiling, and it immerses you in color, form and light.

Sunburst, 1999 by Dale Chihuly, Blown glass, neon, metal armature, 99.132 Gift of Funds from Donna and Cargill MacMillan Jr. • Credit: On View in Gallery 100

The museum is free but does require a pre-reserved timed ticket. Only guided tours are given, and are available at 10:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m., Thursday through Saturday. Our tour guide was the Executive Director of the museum, Andy Schlauch. He offered a wealth of information regarding the collection of Gerard Cafesjian and his friendship with Chihuly. Because Schlauch organized the exhibition, he could also answer questions regarding details of the exhibition: from the lighting, to the hanging of the pieces, down to the placement of the pieces of colorful “confetti” in a Persian set.

Our group enjoyed the exhibition and tour, and we all agreed that we will be back to see other upcoming exhibitions! And if visiting museums makes you hungry, note that we also had a great lunch at Churchill St. restaurant which was across the parking lot from the museum.

Confetti Persian Set by Dale Chihuly Credit: Karen Nerison

For more information and background on Cafesjian and the exhibition see this quick PBS video:

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