In 2009 BIMA's Founding Board was formed to help realize the vision of BIMA's Founder Cynthia Sears. The group began researching regional museums and exploring unfilled community needs, especially on Bainbridge Island and the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas with an emphasis on public input. A non-profit organization was formed with a founding board of trustees and the perfect location was secured at Winslow Way and Highway 305, a short walk from the ferry terminal. A significant donation was secured to purchase the land, and a partnership with the Island Gateway development was formed to create a combined campus for nonprofit organizations, retail and commercial offices. A project team including Asani, Coates Design (Matthew Coates, principal architect) and PHC Construction was formed and program and space planning was initiated. Public engagement continued through a design review event, First Friday Art Walk receptions in the former Discovery Center, and through local media including newspaper articles, and various community and art blogs.

In 2010, after securing several million in initial funding, the museum’s board hired its first full-time Executive Director who worked with museum leadership on program visions, completing building designs, budgets and construction, finalizing operating and transitional budgets, expanding the board and its committees, and organizing for the capital campaign, including forming a robust Capital Campaign Steering Committee.

Construction of the Museum was completed and BIMA opened to the public in June 2013 with its inaugural group show “First Light” curated by Greg Robinson, Max Grover, Norie Sato, Jake Seniuk, Barbara Earl Thomas, Janice Shaw, and Cynthia Sears. Since its opening, BIMA has built an audience of passionate members and approximately 90,000 annual visitors from around the globe.