After permanently closing March 12, The Bead Museum is donating its entire collection of beads and beaded objects to Mingei International Museum in San Diego. It is considered the most comprehensive public collection in the world, containing 11,650 beads and beaded items made from a wide variety of materials.

"The Bead Museum's board is pleased that the collection will remain intact and that it has found a wonderful new home at the prestigious Mingei International Museum in San Diego," said Kelly Norton, executive director of The Bead Museum. "Like The Bead Museum, Mingei International showcases useful, handmade objects of timeless beauty that are satisfying to the human spirit. Our missions are symbiotic, and we are now confident that The Bead Museum collection will live on."

"We are honored to accept this significant gift from The Bead Museum," said Rob Sidner, director of Mingei International Museum. "This extraordinary collection fits perfectly with Mingei International's mission, and strengthens the institution's long-time interest in and commitment to beads and adornment."

The Bead Museum was founded in 1986 by Gabrielle Liese, who is a renowned bead collector and historian, and is the only museum of its kind in the world. The collection of individual beads and beaded objects represents nearly all bead producing areas and cultures of the world and spans 20,000 years, from ancient times to the present day.

"The collections of both The Bead Museum and Mingei International Museum truly complement each other," said Jamey D. Allen, renowned bead researcher and former curator of the Liese collection. "The gift of beads to Mingei International is a great benefit to the museum, both expanding and enriching its current collection."

"The human fascination with beads has spanned millennia, and this announcement comes at a time when scientific and public interest in this subject is particularly strong," said Robert Liu, coeditor of Ornament Magazine. "The passage of this important collection to Mingei International ensures that it will continue to be shared with scholars and visitors."

For the next several months, Mingei International will focus on the physical absorption of the bead collection and then begin planning for its continued documentation, maintenance and use. Museum visitors will get their first look at pieces from the collection in an exhibition opening at Mingei International in December 2011, New Jewelry in a New Medium, which will feature beads and adornment made from polymer clay.

Along with the bead collection, Mingei International is also accepting a substantial library from The Bead Museum, including thousands of books, periodicals and catalogs.


Mingei International Museum exhibits folk art, craft and design from all eras and cultures of the world. Its museum in Balboa Park features Southern California's largest and richest collection of mingei - art of the people. A non-profit institution funded by admission, individuals, and community support, the Museum offers inspiring exhibitions and diverse educational programs to over 100,000 visitors a year. To learn more, visit