Transformation | Mingei International Museum

The Museum reopened to the public on September 3, 2021, exactly three years after closing for a transformative construction project. Entry into the Museum Labor Day weekend, Friday, September 3 through Monday, September 6, will be free for all as a gift to San Diego. The Museum will be open 10am-5pm, seven days a week, with expanded evening hours until 8pm on Thursdays and Fridays.

“It’s an important moment to aspire to a big gesture of change. This project with Mingei is a perfect confluence—it’s about the Park, the craft of fine art, and good design. And it’s one of the most authentic and humble institutions in the city that I believe in. It couldn’t be a better fit.”

Jennifer Luce Founder and Principal, LUCE et studio How to Donate

Great spaces inspire great exchanges.

Mingei International Museum has embarked on a major transformation of its facility on the Plaza de Panama in Balboa Park, one that redefines its relationship to the Park, the San Diego region and the world. The plan expresses a dynamically renewed commitment to the Museum’s vision and the community it serves.

Through a series of visitor surveys, stakeholder interviews and tours of other museums, Mingei reaffirmed its mission to open up the Museum space for maximum engagement and collaboration and expand access to collections, exhibitions and educational programming.

PLAY

Video

Go Behind-the-Scenes with Mingei Executive Director Rob Sidner & Architect Jennifer Luce

A free plaza level places visitors at the center.

Art belongs to everyone. With a gallery, store, restaurant and center for learning, the free plaza level features multiple public entries on east and west, opening the Museum to expansive meeting, making and learning opportunities:

  • lively new civic space to gather on the Plaza Level, with free admission for everyone
  • inviting courtyard next to the Plaza de Panama and upper-level terraces with breathtaking views
  • dedicated education center for K-12 students and for people of all ages to engage in hands-on artmaking
  • beautiful theater for performances, lectures and demonstrations
  • stunning galleries and library upstairs, with access to the House of Charm’s iconic tower
  • inspired shopping and dining

The second level is devoted to exhibitions and research, with its main galleries and art and media library. Mingei is also giving back to the City of San Diego through the addition of open space and restoration of its historic home, The House of Charm.

“I’m impressed with Mingei International Museum’s vision and courage in embarking on a transformational project that embraces the community and increases access for everyone to the Museum’s collections. By going big, Mingei reflects the audacity of Balboa Park’s founders in providing enticing public spaces open to all.”

Todd Gloria, San Diego Mayor

Education Center

Mingei educational programming facilitates engagement with our diverse museum collection, celebrating the value of seeing the world in new ways. We’re committed to partnering with institutions and working artists to forge a deep understanding of folk art, craft and design processes. The new Education Center facilitates hands-on learning—from its dedicated classroom and meeting space for docents and volunteers to ample room for school groups to gather.

Theater

Mingei is transforming a non-functional loading dock into a gorgeous, new 1700-square-foot Theater space for inspiring lectures, concerts, films, dinners and special events. It features 13-foot ceilings, chairs of classic Danish design and state-of-the art lighting and audio-visual systems. A sleek 40-foot glass door opens to the outdoor amphitheater and Palm Canyon beyond. 

Art Collections and Library

We’re building a new way to immerse in and explore the art of Mingei on the second level, devoted to art and research. The exhibition spaces and art reference and media library showcase our collections. An elegant boardroom features the Museum’s sweeping Nakashima table for meetings and events and to inspire far-reaching discussions.

Outdoor Spaces

By creating new public outdoor areas, a transparent relationship to the iconic Plaza de Panama and connection to Alcazar Garden emerges. While the courtyard directly above the Theater provides an intimate public space, a mural from the Museum’s permanent collection, Variations on a Gold Theme by Ellamarie and Jackson Woolley, offers a stunning backdrop for private events, film projection and temporary exhibitions. Moreover, for many decades have the building’s upper terraces have not been open to the public. They are being reclaimed with breathtaking views of the Plaza and California Tower, Palm Canyon and the new courtyard. 

Stairwell and Tower

A new staircase spills out of the House of Charm tower, creating an informal amphitheater for gathering and an inviting entrance to the second level and its iconic tower. The new grand staircase houses the signature sculptured created by Dale Chihuly, Mingei International Museum Chandelier, with the conical tower enhancing the glasswork. A skylight floods the interior with light. 

Art Storage and Staff Offices

Behind the scenes, Museum Staff works together in a collaborative, efficient office environment on the lower level of the building. The newly designed workspace brings improvements to art storage and easy access to art handling.

Balboa Park Amenities

As we build the future, we’re also rebuilding the past, restoring historic integrity to the House of Charm and reducing environmental impact:

  • restoring attributes of the original 1915 building by reenergizing the once-utilized upper terraces for visitor use and enjoyment and also the Alcazar Garden entry
  • showing the building's history to visitors through the construction of a new grand staircase and revealing the interior of the tower
  • working to achieve LEED Gold Certification and upgrading to meet code requirements including ADA
  • repairing dilapidated terrace roofing, installing a much-needed freight elevator, moving a transformer and replacing the heating and air conditioning system for all tenants in the House of Charm

“We’re pleased to share the House of Charm with the Mingei for many more decades as the Globe continues to pursue its mission to serve the public good.”

Timothy J. Shields, Managing Director The Old Globe Donate Today
PLAY

Video

Teatime Talks: Revealing the Work of Petra Blaisse

Teatime Talks

Mingei International Museum Director Rob Sidner and Architect Jennifer Luce discuss commissioned artworks for the renovated Museum in a series of webcasts.

Please Note

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