Beads | Mingei International Museum
Image: Bracelet (detail), Pier Voulkos, 1995, polymer clay

Beads date to the origins of humankind. They have served as currency, conveyed social and political messages, and expressed human creativity.



1995 USA

This polymer clay bracelet showcases the instinctual talent of Pier Voulkous

Crown with Veil

20th Century Nigeria

These beaded crowns are revered objects in Yorubaland as the essence of sacred rulership.

Beaded Necklace

1980-90 Kenya

Each one of these 112 colorful beaded strands has a hidden meaning.

Chevron Bead Strand

16th-17th century Africa

Produced in the millions and traded worldwide, these beads were highly valued and used as currency to purchase goods.

Necklace (Ainu Bead Necklace)

19th Century Japan

This highly prized necklace would have been part of an Ainu woman’s attire for formal occasions.


1880s-1920s France

Hundreds of tiny steel cut beads, adorn this vintage tapestry style fringed purse.

Makinak (Necklace)

20th c. Oman

This stunning yet humble necklace is part of a recent acquisition from the Carolyn Dreyer Omani Wedding Silver Collection.

Plan your Visit

Please note: The Museum will be closed Monday, July 4.