Betty Bowen

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Betty Bowen (born Betty Cornelius) (1918–1977), was an American journalist and art promoter. She was born in Kent, Washington, and earned an English degree from the University of Washington. She worked briefly as a reporter for The Seattle Times, and later as women's editor for the Seattle Star. She was married to John Bowen, captain of an AT&T ship that laid undersea cables.[1]

Bowen played a role in founding the Seattle Art Museum (SAM)[citation needed] and many other important artistic institutions. Founding SAM Director Richard Fuller saw the potential in Bowen and promoted her to the first assistant director of the SAM. She is recognized for her successful attempts to make Pike Place Market a historic site, and her service on the board of the Friends of the Market. The Seattle Museum recognizes her service with an annual Betty Bowen Award, which recognizes formerly unknown artists from the Pacific Northwest and gives them an opportunity to win prizes up to $10,000.[1]

The view looking out to Smith Cove and Puget Sound from what is now the Betty Bowen Viewpoint, one block north (and uphill) from Bowen's home on Seattle's Queen Anne Hill.

Bowen was an original member of the Seattle Arts Commission, a founding member of the Pacific Northwest Arts and Crafts Center, and helped to found the Allied Arts Historic Preservation Committee,[1] of which she became chair after its founding.[2]

She died of a brain tumor in 1977 at the age of 58. She was declared a First Citizen of Seattle two days before her death.[1]

Seattle Art Museum gives an annual Betty Bowen Award in her honor.[3] The small Marshall Park, about a block from where she lived,[citation needed] features the Betty Bowen Viewpoint with a view over Smith Cove, Elliott Bay and Puget Sound. There are several unsigned works cast in the concrete walkway by the viewpoint; contributing artists include Morris Graves, Margaret Tompkins, Victor Steinbrueck, Guy Anderson, Kenneth Callahan and Charles Stokes.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d Mildred Andrews, Bowen, Betty (1918-1977), HistoryLink, January 6, 1999. Accessed online 10 July 2008.
  2. ^ Guide to the Betty Bowen Papers 1920-1977, University of Washington Library, accessed online 10 July 2008, mentions her chairpersonship, but calls it the "Allied Arts Historic Conservation Committee".
  3. ^ The 34th Annual Betty Bowen Award Competition Archived December 3, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. & list of past winners Archived January 9, 2013, at the Wayback Machine., Seattle Art Museum. Accessed online 2012-12-03.
  4. ^ Marshall Park, Seattle Parks and Recreation, City of Seattle. Accessed online 2012-12-03.