When culture vultures think of America’s arts capitals they think of the theater productions of Broadway or the thriving musical scene of Los Angeles. However, Bellevue, Wash., is a hidden gem that makes a superb vacation choice for arts lovers looking for a change of scene.
The Best of Live Performance
Since the International Ballet Theatre (IBT) is one of Bellevue’s key cultural attraction, it’s the perfect place for arts lovers to start. This North Bellevue organization underwent establishment in 2001 by Vera Altunina, a Russian ballet master and choreographer committed to preserving traditional, classical ballet. She still serves as the artistic director, overseeing beloved ballets like The Nutcracker, Coppelia, and Giselle. The troupe performs at the nearby Kirkland Performing Arts Center and the Meydenbauer Theatre. North Bellevue hotels are more affordable than those downtown, so staying here will help free up funds for more tickets.
The Meydenbauer Theatre isn’t all about traditional performances. The IBT showcases classical works along the contemporary dance festival Chop Shop: Bodies of Work. It also hosts various artistic performances, including shows from the local Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Huayin Performing Arts Group, and the quirky Bone Poets Orchestra.
Fantastic Galleries and Museums
Galleries and museums are the cornerstone of any great arts city. Bellevue delivers here too, with various institutions which celebrate America’s arts history, and look to the future. No arts lover should miss the Bellevue Arts Museum, a space which honors the contemporary arts and crafts of artisans in the local area and beyond. It’s interesting to note that it has no permanent collection. Instead, it welcomes traveling exhibitions. During one visit, you could see crafts created by Japanese-American captives in prison camps, and the next time you could discover breathtaking works of origami.
The Bellevue Arts Museum also hosts the Bellevue Arts Museum ARTSfair every July. This free festival features public art, a sound and movement stage, hands-on kids’ workshops, and much more. Bellevue hotels fill up quickly around the festival, so it’s smart to book early.
Bellevue’s also home to smaller arts spaces like the Hall Spassov Gallery, the Gunnar Nordstrom Gallery, and the Elements Gallery. These more intimate galleries are excellent places to discover exciting new works, and even find a unique souvenir for those hard-to-buy-for loved ones.
Get Out of the Galleries
There’s a time and place for galleries, of course, but one of the most endearing parts of Bellevue’s art scene is that you don’t need to stick indoors to experience it. There are almost 130 public art works around the city center, including 19 in the Hyatt Regency Bellevue, 12 in the Shops at the Bravern, and 13 in the Bellevue Regional Library. They’re marked on maps available from the Bellevue City Hall and the Meydenbauer Center, but you’ll spot many of them as you walk through the city streets or through Downtown Park.
What American cities do you think have underrated arts scenes? Comment with your favorites below!
Author Bio: Lauren Katulka is a happily married freelance writer living on Australia’s Central Coast. When she’s not playing around with words she loves roller skating, spending time in the kitchen, watching indie films, and cuddling her Devon Rex cat, Gizmo.
Photo credit: 1