The Bellevue Arts Museum will reopen June 18, trustees announced yesterday. The downtown museum closed 18 months ago amid a financial and...
The Bellevue Arts Museum will reopen June 18, trustees announced yesterday.
The downtown museum closed 18 months ago amid a financial and artistic crisis, and officials have been working since to raise $3 million they said they need to reopen.
So far, $2 million has been raised, and an additional grant of $500,000 has been offered, said Michael Monroe, the museum’s executive director and chief curator.
Officials said they are confident that the money needed for a recent interior renovation and new programs will appear.
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“Our leadership has strong indications that donors will come forward when the new Bellevue Arts Museum opens its doors,” said Museum Board Chairwoman Angela Sutter.
“We’ve been realizing more and more that it’s always good for people to see something before they invest in it,” Monroe added.
The reopening has been delayed twice because of a lack of money, once last summer and again in October.
This time there will be no delays, said spokeswoman Barbara Jirsa. “We are sure,” she said. “This is really a milestone.”
Officials said yesterday that prior financial problems have been addressed.
When the doors closed in September 2003, the museum was running out of money and faced low attendance after moving to a new $23 million building downtown in 2001.
Some of the problems were attributed to lackluster exhibits, a cold, unwelcoming feeling inside the building, an unclear mission and poor management.
“There wasn’t a rigorous business plan in place before,” Sutter said.
The old plan relied heavily on revenues from admissions, memberships, store sales and tuition from classes. Most museums get the majority of their funding from donations, grants and endowments.
A year ago, the board of trustees developed a new plan. Of the 27 members, about half have joined since the museum’s closure, Jirsa said. “Many of them have extremely strong finance and business skills.”
The museum will continue to pursue an endowment, Sutter said. “We have a longer-term plan, and that is something we’ll be working on.”
When the museum opens, patrons will see a different interior.
Walls have been knocked down inside, creating more open spaces to display artwork.
Rooms will look and seem warmer and more inviting and will have carpeting and comfortable furniture.
Lighting changes will make viewing easier in the galleries, and some of the hands-on educational components and classrooms that didn’t work well are being eliminated.
The museum’s mission also has changed. After approaching patrons and donors, trustees decided to return the museum to its roots, putting the artistic focus on craft and design.
Its strong connection to the annual Bellevue Arts & Crafts Fair, which helps bring in donations, will continue.
Money raised in recent months has come from local donors, new and returning ones, and from donors outside the region, Monroe said.
The museum’s inaugural exhibits will include “The Artful Teapot: 20th Century Expressions from the Kamm Collection” — a showcase of teapots from around the world — and sculptures by iron artist Albert Paley.
A glass installation by Northwest artist Dale Chihuly will greet visitors as they enter.
Natalie Singer: 206-464-2704 or firstname.lastname@example.org