Tools and utensils have extended the arms, hands and feet of humans since the beginning of our time on earth. Tools used in the workshop and utensils used in the home continue to occupy imaginative and clever designers in an ongoing quest to improve the ease and comfort with which we carry out all manner of tasks and jobs in our day to day lives.

The ideal of form following function is naturally applied in the design of tools and utensils, in responding to the needs and demands of the human body. Tools and utensils that don’t feel good in the hand or don’t work well simply get neglected or discarded – replaced by what handles and works better. Good design leads to ease of functioning as well as to what is beautiful -- to tools and utensils we can recognize as and call art.

This exhibition presents such artful objects of daily use from cultures across the globe. Most are hand-made, traditional forms; but there is, also, a selection of machine-made and contemporary objects – all good to handle, effective in use, satisfying to the eye and enjoyable to have around. This is mingei – art of the world and art of the people.


On View: Oct 29, 2016 - Apr 30, 2017


More Exhibitions


Arline Fisch

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June 17, 2017 - January 7, 2018


Indonesian Shadow Puppets

An intimate exhibition in the Museum’s Theater Gallery featuring a selection of shadow puppets from Indonesia.

July 19, 2017 - March 18, 2018


Art of the Americas

Pre-Columbian Art from Mingei's Collection

Part of the Getty Center-led initiative Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, this exhibition offers the most comprehensive presentation to date of the Museum’s significant holdings of objects used by people from the ancient cultures of Mexico, Central and South America.

September 16, 2017 - February 18, 2018



Recycled and Embroidered Textiles of Bengal

Featuring approximately 40 kantha (decorative stitched quilting made from recycled sari) from the Museum's permanent collection.

October 28, 2017 - March 25, 2018


Weaving a Path

Navajo Women and the Feminine Ethos

December 9, 2017 - May 20, 2018