Q&A with BAM’s New Executive Director: Benedict Heywood

In September, Bellevue Arts Museum announced that Benedict Heywood would take over the reigns as executive director. In Minneapolis, he founded The Soap Factory, an arts nonprofit where he focused on the connection between artists and viewers. He was later recruited to lead Pivot Art + Culture for collector Paul Allen in Seattle.


Benedict Heywood

Courtesy Bellevue Art Museum

Have you always been interested in the arts?

Yes; I’ve always loved anything creative, and drew obsessively from an early age. Both my parents were architects, so we were constantly surrounded by great art and design (as well as contractors, as our house was constantly remodeled). I had planned to go to art school after high school, but got sidetracked.


Are you an artist today?

No time. I’m a collector, though.


Tell us about a highlight of leading Pivot Art + Culture.

Being able to work with an art and artifact collection of the breadth, depth, and sheer excellence as Paul Allen’s. That was rare privilege, and my second show for Pivot — Imagined Futures — was my favorite of our short run.


Why the move to BAM?

Since I left Pivot in late summer 2016, I had been working in consultancy here in the Northwest and in Minneapolis, particularly around a project to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the photographer Edward Curtis. However, I also curated a couple of exhibitions at BAM. It is always a consistently exciting venue for artists’ work (I was lucky enough to see the Counter Couture exhibition from BAM at the Museum of Art & Design in New York) and, once I got to know the team, and the huge potential of such a great and storied Northwest institution for the Eastside, the choice was clear.


Anything new happening at the museum over the next year?

Please admire the wonderful and careful refurbishment of our exterior … as for the interior and exhibitions, I’m sure that there will be plenty. But let me get my feet under the desk first!


What’s your favorite piece of artwork in your home?

It’s usually the last piece that I’ve acquired! I have two paintings by my grandmother of which I am very fond. My wife and I bought a large print by painter George Shaw a few years ago, which reminds me of home, but perhaps I’m most proud of the cover art for the comic “Love & Rockets #31” by Jamie Hernandez. — LF

is the managing editor at 425 magazine. Email her.
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