Mingei Museum reopens: Free entry over Labor Day weekend on $ 55 million overhaul


Balboa Parks’ Mingei Museum reopens after a three-year renovation. Photo by Chris Stone

Access, art and architecture.

Mingei International Museum director and CEO Rob Sidner said these “three essential and interrelated elements” have led to the three-year renovation that will be revealed on Friday when the venue, which specializes in folk art, reopens to the public.

“We are confident that the new Mingei will be a cultural anchor at Balboa Park and a source of inspiration for the San Diego area and our domestic and international visitors,” said Sidner.

This “cultural anchor” includes exhibitions and new commissioned works of art, including “Global Spirit – Folk Art from the Ted Cohen Collection” and “Humble Spirit – Priceless Art”, both from the museum’s collection, brought together in the whole world.

Admission for the opening weekend, until Labor Day, is free, and guests visiting the museum, in the park’s 1915 Spanish colonial building, the “Charming House”, will appreciate:

  • 10,000 additional square feet of exhibition and programming space.
  • A new theater, an education center, a bistro, a store and a café-bar.
  • the “Nikigator” mosaic sculpture by Niki de Saint Phalle which will once again welcome visitors to the park, and
  • In situ commissions – by Petra Blaisse, Claudy Jongstra, Christina Kim and Jennifer Luce in collaboration with A. Zahner / Zahner.

Five years ago, Mingei executives commissioned Luce, architect, founder and director of LUCE and studio, to lead a renovation and expansion project focused on accessibility and functionality, while showing “the commitment of Mingei towards art, crafts and design ”.

To achieve this, Luce said in a Mingei “Transformation Teatime”, her team fashioned a space that could serve as a suitable backdrop to exhibit “simple things that turn into wonderful things.”

Friday’s reopening kicks off a month-long celebration that includes San Diego’s second annual Design Week, hands-on art activities, gallery and theater performances, as well as tours of buildings and artist conferences.

After the weekend, admission to the second level galleries will be $ 14 for adults, $ 10 for seniors and military, and free for children under 18.

Meanwhile, Mingei officials continue to lead a fundraising campaign to cover the $ 55 million cost of the transformation. After raising nearly $ 47 million, they have about $ 8 million left.

The Mingei collects, preserves and exhibits “the art of the world, the art of the people”, including folk art, crafts and design from all eras and cultures.

Potter and Professor Martha Longenecker established the museum in 1978 to honor anonymous craftsmen from ancient times to the present day.


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