The Chandelier at Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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A magnificent chandelier hangs under the dome of the main entrance of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design. The great blue, green and yellow explosion in glass looks some sort of a living organism – perhaps a giant squid with writhing tentacles, a characteristic trademark of its sculptor, the American Dale Chihuly, who has designed similar sculptures elsewhere. But the chandelier at Scotts Square is easily his most recognized work. The chandelier was first installed in 1999, at which time, it was more modest. But Chihuly decided it needed to be bigger and enlarged it so that it now fills the central rotunda at the entrance to the museum.


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While referred to as a chandelier, technically it is a hanging sculpture, since it doesn’t light up on its own. Rather, external spotlights are directed towards the structure to illuminate it, and in some instances lights were did placed on the piece. For the most part of the day, natural light shines down onto the glass structure creating additional interplay of light.

The chandelier is 27 feet tall and 12 feet in diameter and is made of blown glass. It was created with blue, green, and yellow glass composed of fused, relatively small swirling tendrils and sharp protruding edges that extend outward from every side. The top and the bottom are composed of a more rounded shape, while a smaller round arrangement of glass hangs in the middle. The top has a notable protrusion, mainly of light blue glass, which then develops into shades of yellow and green as the viewer's eye moves downwards.

Dale Chihuly’s glassworks can be found in more than 200 museum collections worldwide. Among his most celebrated creations include Cylinders and Baskets in the 1970s; Seaforms, Macchia, Venetians, and Persians in the 1980s; Niijima Floats and Chandeliers in the 1990s; and Fiori in the 2000s.


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Victoria & Albert Museum technical service member Andy Monks cleans the Rotunda Chandelier by Dale Chihuly to complete the cleaning of the Dome in the Museum's Grand Entrance in Cromwell Road, west London, on October 2, 2014. (Photo by Nick Ansell/PA Wire)

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