Beauty in a Burl | Mingei International Museum

"We have to work hard to both pursue beauty, but also balance it with a kind of quiet."

As the Museum prepares for its September 3 reopening, we partnered with LUCE et studio to commission artworks of both function and beauty from six women artists – including LUCE’s own founder Jennifer Luce. One of these remarkable works, an artist gallery bench, EAST|WEST is a collaborative design effort between LUCE and Billie Tsien of Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects studio in Manhattan, who spearheaded the project.

EAST|WEST contains references to root stools that originated in ancient Asian and African cultures. Tsien uses a root burl embedded in the wooden bench’s sleek, wide and long surface as both an aesthetically pleasing feature and functional handle for one resting on the bench to push themselves up from their seat. The reclaimed root burl comes from Tsien’s long-time woodworking collaborator in New Jersey and is an example of art for public use. Billie Tsien’s custom gallery bench will be joined by two George Nakashima benches from the 1950s, with the special designation of collection objects of both display and use for visitors on the Gallery level.

Founded in Midtown Manhattan, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects studio focuses on work for schools, museums and non-profits—organizations and people that value ideas of aspiration and meaning, timelessness and beauty. Billie and Tod believe that architecture is the coming together of art and use, and their recent architectural work includes prestigious buildings such as The Obama Presidential Center and Hood Museum of Art. Tsien also serves as the Chair of the Commission of Fine Arts in Washington, D.C. – the first woman to hold the position in its 111-year history.

Please Note

Masks are required for all guests (ages 2+) inside the Museum, regardless of vaccination status.