December 25, 2000
New home for BAM invites visitors to see, explore and make art
by Deborah Stone
Bellevue Art Museum opens the doors to its new home on Jan. 13 with a public dedication and an official ribbon cutting ceremony beginning at 10 a.m.
Designed by internationally renowned architect Steven Holl, the bold three-story, 36,000 square-foot glass, aluminum and textured concrete structure gives the museum a dramatic presence in downtown Bellevue. Funds for the $23 million project were raised in three and a half years in a highly successful capital campaign, chaired by Kemper Freeman Jr. and Frank Blethen.
"The support for the new museum was unprecedented and reflected the community's deep commitment to this new gathering place," stated Freeman. "Bellevue Art Museum will be the cultural heart of the City of Bellevue and a regional resource wrapped in world-class architecture."
The structure's unique design supports the museum's mission of providing opportunities to see, explore and make art.
People, rather than objects, are the main focus of the museum, with emphasis placed on the creative process, as well as the product.
Light and perception are the major themes in Holl's design and there is extensive use of glass, terraces and skylights, which gives the building a quality of openness and sense of discovery.
Located on the corner of Bellevue Way and NE Sixth Street, the new structure houses a museum school with four classrooms, an interactive explore gallery, an artist-in-residence program, an auditorium, a multimedia library, a gift store and a café, in addition to 8,500-square feet for exhibition space.
The museum will not maintain a permanent collection, but rather devote its resources to dynamic visual arts exhibitions and educational programming designed to focus on the visitor's active exploration of art.
Opening exhibits are connected to the design of the new building and include "Luminous: Light as Material, Medium and Metaphor," an international showcase of media art, painting, design, photography, sculpture, focusing on artists' use of light ; "Juan Alonso: Give/Take," a new work developed by Seattle-based artist Juan Alonso focusing on the architecture of the new building and "bit plane" (bureau of inverse technology video/installation), a new media-based project organized around video footage of Bellevue and surrounding areas that was gathered with a small remote control, military-surplus aircraft.
The museum school opens its doors with 50 different class offerings designed to serve all ages and levels, while the explore gallery, in its inaugural exhibition, "Exploring Bellevue Art Museum," will encourage visitors to make their own architectural structures, incorporating various qualities of light, materials, colors and textures.
A full range of exhibition-related programs are scheduled, along with a newly established Artist-in-Residence Program.
With its diverse programming, the museum strives to establish itself as a leader in the integration of visually stimulating exhibitions, hands-on galleries and community-based art education.
For more information on membership, hours of operation, admission, art classes and upcoming exhibits at the new museum, call (425) 519-0770 or check on the web at www.bellevueart.org.