Simply Mingei Gala Event

The evening of May 7, the Trustees of Mingei International Museum and the Gala Co-Chairmen, Maureen and Charles King and Patricia and John Seiber, welcomed their guests to be a part of this Spring's grand celebration, showcasing the extraordinary transformation of Mingei and honoring Rob Sidner’s 16 years of inspirational leadership as Executive Director.

The evening's festivities included cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, a sit-down dinner, a presentation by Rob Sidner and culminating with dancing under the stars on the Courtyard. 

The Museum reopened to the public on September 3, 2021, exactly three years after closing for a transformative construction project. The Museum will be open 10am-5pm, seven days a week, with expanded evening hours until 8pm on Thursdays and Fridays.

Great spaces inspire great exchanges.

Mingei International Museum completed a major transformation of its facility on the Plaza de Panama in Balboa Park, one that has redefined its relationship to the Park, the San Diego region and the world. The transformed building 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 for maximum engagement and collaboration and expand access to collections, exhibitions and educational programming.

A free Commons Level places visitors at the center.

Art belongs to everyone. With a gallery, store, restaurant and center for learning, the free Commons 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 Commons 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 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.


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.


Mingei transformed a non-functional loading dock into a gorgeous, new 1,700-square-foot Theater 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. 


Immerse yourself in the art of Mingei on the second level, devoted to art and research with exhibition spaces and an art library. An elegant boardroom features the Museum’s sweeping Nakashima table for meetings and events and inspires far-reaching discussions.


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. 

For many decades the building’s upper terraces were not open to the public, but they have now been reclaimed with breathtaking views of the Plaza and California Tower, Palm Canyon and the new courtyard. 


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. 


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

Photography by Travis Land