Thirty larger-than-life glass sculptures of flowers, insects, and more will be on view throughout the seven-acre gardens at Winchester’s Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (MSV) from June 8 through October 13, 2024, when the MSV presents the outdoor exhibition Gardens of Glass: The Art of Craig Mitchell Smith.

Created by Michigan artist Craig Mitchell Smith, Gardens of Glass highlights include an 18-foot-tall stainless-steel dandelion with a puffball made of iridescent glass, a chandelier made with hundreds of autumn-colored glass leaves suspended from a maple tree, and dragonflies with four-foot wingspans made of glass.

Based in Michigan, Smith’s revolutionary techniques have established him as one of the most innovative kiln-glass artists in America. Gardens of Glass marks his fourteenth large-scale outdoor exhibition and his first in the Mid-Atlantic Region in over a decade. The exhibition includes dozens of works never shown in the region, along with new pieces created specifically for the MSV. Notable new works include Apple Blossom, a tribute to the Valley’s apple heritage, and a sculpture featuring ten eastern tiger swallowtail butterflies, Virginia’s state insect.

According to Smith, he has worked with the Museum for a year to select the locations for his sculptures in the gardens. “I hope visitors will delight in discovering the pieces as they explore the gardens,” says Smith, adding that “the sculptures are just magical here.” He notes that the intimate garden rooms, water features, evergreen hedges, and diverse blooms make the MSV an ideal setting for Gardens of Glass.

Some sculptures are monumental, commanding their space, while others seem to have grown naturally in the landscape. Making a Wish, the massive dandelion, towers in the lawn and Orange Blossom—a striking 16-foot-tall sculpture featuring orange, tangerine, and yellow blooms—glows on a bed of liriope near the Asian Garden’s Tea House. Conversely, Goldenrod, an 11-foot-tall creation adorned with hundreds of tiny yellow glass florets, blends seamlessly with the blooming perennials in Kathie’s Spring Garden. Unique to the MSV display, Smith reconfigured a curtain of hundreds of burnished copper-colored glass leaves into a massive chandelier, inspired by the chandelier in the MSV’s Pink Pavilion.

Families are invited to bring picnics to enjoy on the MSV grounds, and they may purchase ice cream, light snacks, and souvenirs—including works created by Craig Mitchell Smith—at a special Pop-up Shop in the gardens.

Admission to Gardens of Glass—which includes admission to the MSV galleries—is $15 for adults, $10 for youth ages 13–18 and seniors, and $5 for ages 5–12. Exhibition admission is free to ages 4 and under and to MSV members. Through the Museums for All program, admission is also free to those receiving food assistance (SNAP) benefits. To take advantage of this offer, visitors need to present an EBT card to MSV admissions staff, and the benefit is valid for up to four family members per cardholder.

The MSV display of Gardens of Glass has been made possible thanks to generous sponsorship from the Valley’s corporate community, including: iHeartMedia; Edward Jones; Love at First Bite Catering and Events; Malloy Automotive Group; Reader & Swartz Architects; Four Winds Tree Experts; Frederick Block, Brick & Stone; The George Washington–A Wyndham Grand Hotel; H.N. Funkhouser & Co. and Handy Mart; HP Hood LLC; Shenandoah Foot & Ankle Center; TWG Insurance; and Yount, Hyde & Barbour, P.C.

A regional cultural center, the MSV is located at 901 Amherst Street in Winchester, Virginia. The MSV includes a galleries building with permanent and rotating exhibitions, the Glen Burnie House, seven acres of formal gardens, and The Trails at the MSV—a free-admission art park open daily from 7 a.m. to dusk. The galleries, gardens, and Gardens of Glass exhibition are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The exhibition is closed on Mondays. Additional details are available at or by calling 540-662-1473, ext. 235.

About Artist Craig Mitchell Smith

Based in Charlevoix, Michigan, Craig Mitchell Smith took a roundabout route to becoming a glass artist. He has been a painter, theatrical set designer, home restorer, and florist. In 2006 at age 42, Smith discovered glass when he took a fused-glass workshop after a friend who had signed up for the class was unable to attend. Since then, Smith has developed his own techniques for forming glass in the kiln. He has exhibited his work at Epcot Center at Disney World, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis, the Norfolk Botanical Gardens, and Dow Gardens in Midland, Michigan, among many others.