Close up: Benedict Heywood, New Director Bellevue Arts Museum

By Matthew Kangas
After a series of advances and setbacks since moving into its Steven Holl-designed facility in 2001, Bellevue Arts Museum had a series of directors who alternately rescued or nearly wrecked the 33-year-old institution, which originated across the street within the Bellevue Square shopping mall. New director Benedict Heywood, 51, brings a top-tier background from Great Britain – Marlborough College, Oxford University, Courtauld Institute of Art - to a daunting task: restoring financial stability and priming the museum for an active future concentrating on its historic origins: art, craft and design. In addition to the US $876,713 retrofitting in 2004, Heywood noted, “We want to honor the building and pay more attention to how shows fit into the space.”
Having directed nonprofit visual arts groups in Minneapolis between 1994 and 2015, Heywood applies his wide experience to Bellevue Arts Museum’s needs: “My focus is on the audience. Where most museums fail is that they’re too internalized. Our situation is a general audience. They want a unique experience that will engage them.”
“Our advantage is that we have no [permanent]  collection, so we will continue with our solo and group exhibitions, like the big glass biennial we are planning for November of this year,”  Heywood said. “The difference between Britain and America is that, in America, you’re always raising money. I always say, ‘If you want advice, ask for money; if you want money, ask for advice’—and there’s a lot of money here; so many billionaires [that] people don’t realize it!”

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