History of Mingei

Established in 1978, Mingei International Museum collects, conserves and exhibits arts of daily use – by anonymous craftsmen of ancient times, from traditional cultures of past and present and by historical and contemporary designers. The Museum’s Founder, Martha Longenecker, was a professor of art at San Diego State University who studied the art of pottery-making in Japan. As an artist craftsman, she became acquainted with and learned from the founders and leaders of the Mingei Association of Japan, who inspired her to carry the vision of mingei to the U.S.A.

Mingei International Museum’s inaugural exhibition was DOLLS AND FOLK TOYS OF THE WORLD. Since then, Mingei has shared over 183 exhibitions covering a diverse range of cultures, themes, and media. These exhibitions have featured both unknown craftspeople and renowned artists, and everything from the tiniest Pre-Columbian bead to large-scale sculptures by Niki de Saint Phalle. In August 1996, Mingei International Museum relocated to its current 41,000-square-foot facil­ity on the Plaza de Panama in Balboa Park.