BAM Arts Fair History



The first arts and crafts fair (now Bellevue Arts Museum Arts Fair) is held in a small upstart shopping center called Bellevue Square. It is organized by Carl Pefley, the Freeman family, and a handful of dedicated community volunteers who later form the Pacific Northwest Arts & Crafts Association (PANACA). Despite several downpours throughout the weekend, nearly 30,000 people come to see the art and shop from 70 regional artists.


The Patron Party, Bellevue's most fashionable event, is born. Guests receive the first pick of works by fair artists with proceeds going towards the three-day festival. This tradition lives on in what has evolved into Artful Evening, BAM's most important fundraiser of the year.



Bellevue is booming. The Association opens PANACA Gallery in Bellevue Square to help promote artists year-round. They also make it their goal to establish a cultural and educational center with the mission to "bring art and people together."



The fair energy transitions into the birth of Bellevue Art Museum. The Museum is created when the PANACA Foundation’s School of Art moves from its home the Little Red Schoolhouse to a former funeral home.



BAM opens on the third floor in Bellevue Square with a series of ambitious exhibitions, including the spectacular Floyd and Carol Whittington Collection of Southeast Asian Art.



Bellevue Art Museum moves into its first purpose-built home, designed by renowned architect Stephen Holl. The bold red color of the building is an homage to the Little Red Schoolhouse, the original home of the Museum’s parent organization.



Tapping back into the Museum's original roots, Bellevue Arts Museum opens its doors with a revitalized mission of art, craft and design and an emphasis on regional artists. An "s" is added to "Arts," symbolizing the inclusion of craft and design. The Museum today serves 360,000 people through all of its exhibitions, programs, and the annual BAM Arts Fair.



BAM Arts Fair celebrates its 70th anniversary!



BAM Arts Fair celebrates 75 years with its first-ever virtual event and marketplace.